So why is the pink tower pink and the brown stair brown and the red rods red and the number rods red and blue and the metal insets pink and blue - and all those other colors? I don't know why each one was initially chosen.
Can you change them up a bit - well, yes. But why re-think the wheel? There are SO many benefits to the colors as they are. Perhaps Dr. Montessori couldn't define why she made all choices; but she was a careful observer and the colors she chose that she never changed - she didn't change because they WORKED. She only changed if something wasn't working.
Pink is a calming color - it brings the children into the primary environment at a very young age. It is attractive. If it is not attractive to boys, then we need to look at the programming done at home. At 3, pink is NOT a girl or boy color! If it's a girl color only, then the boys will never learn to write....
Because the sandpaper letters (used to introduce writing not reading) are pink too! Usually it is the consonants (the majority of the letters) but I've seen it reversed. Interestingly enough, the metal insets (used for.... drum-roll.... WRITING! -- the first time child a writes with a pencil and intended to focus on writing skills and letter-writing-directionality) are pink and blue too. The writing material coordinates. Hmm. And as it moves into reading, it becomes red and blue. I'm not sure why on that one.
Why brown for the brown stair? Because it looks so nice coordinated with the pink cubes from the pink tower when doing extension work. If you're going to leave ONE thing natural, this would be it because it still goes along with the pink tower. But really - the solid smooth color is much better for the children than the grain of wood on this one (or the pink tower or red rods).
Red rods? It stands out clearly against just about any material in the classroom - and since we use the rods as a measuring device, this would be a good thing!
Oh, but the paint chips! Hint: I know Dr. Montessori originally said she allowed the children to be destructive - but then she spent some time in India. Under house arrest. Just because she was Italian. She went there for 2 weeks and came home something like FOUR YEARS later. Interesting how world history (World War 2 in this case) affects how we interpret someone's books on how we educate our children today. Yep. She changed her thinking AND her teaching on *anything* destructive. Kids like to knock their cups off their high chairs as babies - it can be cute in the moment but it leads to carelessness and destruction (and messes!) later, so we nip in the bud.
The grain of the wood can detract from the visual impression of dimension that we are trying to emphasize with the children. Here is a YouTube video of a pink tower with the natural broad stair - beautifully done, but the knots on the broad stair didn't need to be there.
Red fraction circles: the unit is red; the fraction circles and squares are dividing up a unit.
Red and blue number rods - red is the unit; blue is a nice alternate color from the color wheel; it also avoids most color-blind issues.
Place value for math and the colors of the number beads are rarely questioned - these seem to make natural sense for everyone.