single sense materials

The Colour Tablets

Material Description:

Box 1: A box containing six tablets made of lightweight wood, one pair of each of the primary colours, red, blue and yellow

Box 2: A box containing twenty-two tablets, one of each pair of the primary colours (red, blue and yellow) the secondary colours (orange, purple and green) the tertiary colours (pink, brown and grey) and a pair of black and white tablets

Box 3: A box containing sixty-three tablets, divided into nine compartments, each containing seven gradations of each of the primary, secondary and tertiary colours



How to hold:

Hold the wooden or plastic ends with the thumb and index finger



  • Box 1
  • Place tablets one at a time, randomly on the table or working mat
  • Isolate one colour
  • Find it’s match and pair – place together and to one side
  • Continue for the other two pairs
  • Mix the pairs and invite the child to pair

  • Box 2
  • Remove the secondary pairs and place at random
  • Invite the child to pair, arranging as for ox 1
  • If the child shows interest continue by showing the tertiary colours and black and white tablets

  • Box 3
  • Note: Present only one set of graded colours at a time
  • Let the child choose one of the colours of the graded sets
  • Take out each of the seven tablets and place them at random on the table
  • Close the box and place it to one side, so it is not a source of distraction
  • Choose either the darkest or lightest shade and isolate it
  • Choose the shade one gradation different and place it to the right side of the isolated shade
  • Continue until all the tablets have been graded
  • Mix and invite the child to grade
  • The child continues to work with each of the different sets over a period of time



  • Do not correct mistakes, prolonged exposure to the material will help accustom the child to seeing the differences
  • If the child has difficulties reduce the number of grades, leaving three, the extremes and a mid-shade, add more mid-shades when the child has success
  • The child may have a lift-right tracking issue, making the grading difficult so try putting the shades vertically rather than horizontally



  • Mix tablets of contrasting colours, ask the child to sort and grade
  • Introduce additional primary, secondary and tertiary set until the child is working with all sixty-three shades at one time
  • Variation: show the child different ways to organise the shades, for example as spokes of a wheel




  • Boxes 1 and 2, the names of the colours. To be covered in the three-part lesson, giving no more than three names in each lesson, to be taught when the child can discriminate the different colours without hesitation and before Box 3.
  • Box 3 positives, comparatives and superlatives



Criteria of Perfection (Control of rror):

  • The child’s ability to discriminate colour



Direct Aim:

  • Provides the child with a ‘Key’ to orient herself in the world of colour
  • Development of the chromatic sense



Indirect Aim:

  • Provides a basis for an intelligent, tasteful and aesthetic appreciation and application of colour
  • Preparation to understand the symbolic use of colour



Age at Presentation:

Three years



Games (Further Exercises): 

  • Used to promote visual memory


  • Game 1
  • Set out two mats at a distance
  • Place one tablet from each pair from Box 2 on each mat
  • Show on tablet and ask the child to find it’s identical pair, the child brings the pair she thinks is identical and compares


Game 2

  • Show any tablet from Box 2 and ask the child to find a match from somewhere in the environment (first check that one exists)


Game 3

  • Set out two mats at a distance
  • Place one tablet from each pair from Box 3 on each mat
  • Show on tablet and ask the child to find one shade “lighter” or “darker”, the child brings the pair she thinks it is and compares


Game 4

  • As Game 2 but with Box 3


Game 5

  • Scatter all the tablets form Box 3 onto a mat
  • At a distance show the child an object and ask her to find the nearest match
  • Child selects a tablet and holds it up to the object to check

Game 6

  • Make discs of colour using high quality crayons and by inserting a pencil through the centre spin to show colours merging.  All the colours of the spectum spun make a white disc






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1 Comment

  1. […] them another try. The idea is for Little Bean to sort them into matching pairs (see here and here for more information) however she prefers for me to line up one set and then call out each colour […]

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