I am a huge fan of Montessorium. Their apps are always beautifully designed, very well implemented, and able to represent the best of Montessori education. The Montessori way has always intrigued me, so I always collect apps that can represent its way of learning.
To give you an idea of the quality that you can expect from Montessorium apps, you can read my previous review of Intro to Geography - North America. It’s an excellent way to learn geography, even for adults. You can also check out Alpha Writer, a lovely app that my three-year-old Philip uses on a regular basis to learn phonics.
Recently, the developers released a brand new app to add to their “Intro” series, entitled Intro to Colors. The app tries to show you how to teach colors to your juniors as a Montessori school would. I personally find the app very inspirational, and here’s why.
Intro to Colors by Montessorium
The app has five simple activities that juniors can perform. The first one is Primary Colors. As you would expect from the name, you will learn about three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. You will learn how to match color tablets into pairs and to recognize colors by their names.
The second activity, Secondary Colors, uses the same approach to introduce secondary colors: orange, green and purple. You will also learn about two additional sets of colors: black/white/gray and pink/brown.
In the Shades and Gradients activity, you will see eight series of colors on a rotating octagon. Once you select a color, you will see seven variants of that color, with a varying degree of light and darkness. You will be required to order these colors from light to dark, or vice versa.
To let you mix colors on your own, the app includes a fourth activity: Mix and Paint. You would be given three primary watercolors. You are free to paint on a blank canvas, painting objects and mixing colors for your painting.
Finally, in the Search for Colors activity, you will find an illustration that has been converted into grayscale. All the colors are hidden, except for the ones that you are asked to find based on the voice instructions. When you replay the activity, the highlighted objects will differ, giving you a new challenge every time. There are two illustrations that you may encounter in this activity.
Parents Need to Know
A factor that makes the Montessori approach to introducing colors different is how it tries to extract any distinguishable objects from the concept of colors itself. By using the same object to represent all colors, i.e. the Montessori color tablets, it’s much easier for juniors to identify colors by their names, instead of by their associations with physical objects.
Traditionally, the way color is taught, is a teacher will hold up an object, let’s say an apple and exclaim, “This is red.” Now, in the mind of a child, there’s way too much at play. First, there’s an object: an apple. Now, apples aren’t always red. Sometimes they’re yellow or green. Second, there’s also a concept: “red”. In this situation, what often happens is that the child, who is still trying to make a strong connection to the world, will end up associating the concept (red) with the object (apple). It’s not all that uncommon to have a child see a yellow apple and point, “red”!
In addition to Montessori color tablets, Intro to Colors also uses watercolor activity, which is common in typical Montessori classroom. Instead of making all the colors available, the app only shows the three primary colors and encourages juniors to explore what they can make by mixing different portions of each. Based on my playing sessions with Philip, I can testify that he learned so much more using this approach compared to the traditional approach of providing him with plenty of colors.
Things I Like
First, I have to admit that I thought green was one of the primary colors. It is because I am more familiar with the RGB color model, but nevertheless the app makes me relearn that painting uses a different RYB color model, which predates the CMYK color model widely used in printing. I’m glad that both my sons would get a chance to receive the appropriate explanation for these differences now that I’ve become more aware of it.
The second thing that I like about this app is its decision to add musical tones when playing with the shades/gradients of colors. Observing how Philip plays with the activity, I learned that it was not easy for him to order the colors. With the appropriate musical tone embedded in each of the color tablets, he could identify whether he was doing it correctly.
One final thing that I really appreciate is the multi-language support. As of today, the app has support for English, French, German, Spanish, and Chinese. This is priceless for our family, as my wife and I have been trying to provide Philip with a good set of materials to learn some Chinese, and finding a good app especially for ESL juniors is really hard. I’m glad that Intro to Colors exists. Now, my sons can learn colors in both English and Chinese.
Intro to Colors is an essential app that you must have in your collection if your juniors are still struggling with colors. Even three-year-olds like Philip can still learn a lot about colors. I think Intro to Colors is able to illustrate how effective Montessori’s approach to learning can be. And if you want them to learn about colors in languages other than English, you will find this app really impressive.