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Matching Color Shades

Sweet Pea is 37 months old.

From: I saw this on Giving Up on a Clean House, Crunchy and Green, and Chasing Cheerios.  Also, the Montessori Color Tablets, Box #3 exercise is a somewhat similar activity.


  • Paint sample cards.  Select 2 identical sheets for each color you want to use.
  • Clothespins.
  • Scissors.
  • Glue. (I prefer these glue dots.)
  • Strips of cardboard cut into the same shape as the paint sample cards (optional).
  • Container to hold the clothespins.


  • Separate the paint sample cards into 2 identical piles.
  • Using only the first pile, cut small rectangles of each shade from the paint sample cards.
  • Glue each rectangle onto a separate clothespin.
  • If you want to make the second pile of paint sample cards sturdier,  glue them onto the pieces of cardboard.
  • Choose one paint strip and separate out the colored clothespins that match it.
  • Present your tot with the selected paint strip and matching clothespins.
  • Choose one of the clothespins and hold it next to color at the top of the paint strip.

  • Model your thinking by saying, “Do these shades match?” and then (depending on if it matches or not, “No, the shades don’t match.  I think this one is darker…” or “Yes, these match!”
  • If the shades don’t match, move the clothespin down to the next darker color and ponder over whether they match or not.  Invite your child to give you an opinion.  Keep going until you reach the matching shade.
  • When you reach the matching shade, say, “These shades match!” and deliberately show your tot how to press the ends of the clothespin to open it, slide it onto the card, and release the clothespin to make it close.
  • Select a new clothespin and repeat the process.
  • Hand the work over to your tot once they understand the activity.

Observations: Sweet Pea liked this at the time and it seemed almost the right level of challenge for her. However, she did not play with this for very long and has not chosen it as an activity again.  Once she had done all of the clothespins one time, she was totally finished.  I could not entice her to repeat it.

I love that the clothespins are good fine motor control and I know a lot of other people had luck with this activity, but it just didn’t work out very well for us.  The more effort I put into an activity, the less likely she is to enjoy it.  🙂  At least this wasn’t too difficult to assemble.  And maybe she just isn’t quite ready for it yet, so I will probably present it to her again in another month or so.

Notes from the Trenches: She did the 3 color strips and made only 1 error on the yellow card, but I didn’t have a good way to correct her without saying, “No.  No.  You did it wrong!”

I think I might draw symbols on the back of the clothespins and paint sample cards so Sweet Pea can match them up to check her work.  I think it would be better if she could have flipped over the card to check for herself.

Rating: 2 Stars * (Independent, Frugal)

Carnivals: This post is linked at  Mommy Moment’s  Montessori Moment.

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