What is the Montessori 3 period lesson + freebie

Today, I want to introduce you to the Montessori 3 period lesson or how to introduce some new vocabulary to your child. 

In the 3 to 6 year old classroom, we teach new vocabulary mainly with the 3 part cards.

You can also do the 3 period lesson with objects, toys, and naming anything around you. Note that with young children who don't talk much yet, we skip the third step and therefore, it's sometimes called the two-period lesson for toddler.  

The three steps, or periods, are:

  • Naming
  • Recognition and Association
  • Recall

3 period lesson Montessori

The 3 step or period lesson:

First step or period: Name it!

Show one card or one object and say "this is ...". The key is to keep it simple and not to make animals sounds or to give long sentences or talking about what it is. Just name it!

Second step or period: Recognition

Show 2 or 3 pictures or objects and ask your child to find a specific one. 

You can do this the classic way:

  • Lay down 3 to 5 three-part cards, adding more as your child becomes more familiars
  • ask your child to find one specific card "Can you show me the bucket card?"

With younger children or as a variation of the activity above, you can "play" various games:

  • play it more like a matching game: "let's find the picture that matches this one or that matches this toy".
  • "choose one animal. You pick the "lion", let's find the "lion picture". Let your child find the corresponding picture.
  • "Pick any card. Let find the other picture that is the same as the "horse tail".

Take a mental note of what your child doesn't recognise yet and go back to step one for those words.

Third step or period: What is this?

Generally, we don't do the third step with toddlers unless you have a very verbal child!

Some children know the answer but doesn't like to be put on the spot. The third step is not a test and the point is not to make your child perform. 

The whole lesson should be enjoyable so if the third step stresses them out, skip it for now. In every day life, your child will likely use his new found vocabulary and that will be proof enough that he has absorbed it. 

If your child is eager, lay a few cards in front of him and ask "what is this?". 

I use the third step a lot to reinforce French vocabulary with my children (who currently speak more English than French).

So are you going to use the 3 period lesson with your child? 

To get you started, download a set of 3 part cards about Gardening tools!

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.