In the end the pink tower won in regards to usage by students. The color tablet box II was used fifty percent less than the pink tower. The red rods came in a close second.
For those of you who may not have noted my brief inclusion of this lesson in Photographic Album Number 7, let me go back a few steps and re-post those photographs. Knowledge of graphing is listed in the math curriculum for incoming first graders at our local public schools. Although we do not shape our curriculum to satisfy others, we do review several curriculums prepared by a number of local towns. We assess what we can include while preserving our Montessori method and material usage and what we can't.
At a recent Montessori conference, the guest speaker spoke of two teachers who wanted to find out which was the preferred material - the brown stair or the pink tower. They decided to put small boxes with slits in them for coins next to both materials. The teachers informed the students that they were to put a coin in the designated box when they used either materials. After several weeks the older students took the boxes to the rug and counted the coins in each box. They then made a bar graph illustrating the recorded number allowing the children to visually identify which of the two materials was most often choosen. I did this but I added a third material: color box II.
The only issue that came up was the putting in of buttons simply for the joy of it and not for using the materials. This was done mostly by my younger students who were delighted to push the small button through the little slit in the box. It made them giggle. At the end of the day, after the children had gone home, I removed those added counters so the totals would be correct. The children also had the opportunity to note the predictions that they had made at the beginning of the exercise and compare them with the results. Most of the children had predicted that the red rods would be the most selected material. They were suprised when it was not. I will repeat this work in the fall and throughout the year. However, I will change the materials used every month or so.