Have you seen the Montessori style 3 part card around but don’t really know why they are so popular or don’t know how to use Montessori 3 part cards effectively?

Let me tell you this… they are brilliant and such a simple but effective way to introduce new vocabulary and concepts to kids. Plus because of the Follow The Child concept, you can really help your child learn to read and write but in a way they find fun.

If your child is currently into knights and castles, then using a knights and castles set of cards will keep their interest (my son was mad for knights for quite a few years!) We also went through the dinosaur phase and the ninja phase!

 

What Are Montessori 3 Part Cards?

You may have seen them called Nomenclature or Montessori classified cards. They consist of, yes you guessed it, 3 part cards. 

  • The control card has the picture and the name
  • The object card is just the picture
  • The label card is just the name
Guide to using Montessori 3 cards

These cards are usually used with kids aged 3-6, but you can also use them for kids outside of that age group. There is no hard and fast rule. 

They can be used with children who are not reading yet and are perfect for emergent readers. And can also be used with non-verbal children, by pointing you can see if they are understanding.

The best thing about these cards is their versatility. They can be used for vocabulary, matching, sequencing, reading, writing, classification and much more.

Montessori 3 part cards are designed to be used with a guide (parent, teacher or older child) who helps the child initially but then the child can work by themselves using the control card to check by themselves if they have got the work correct.

How To Prepare Montessori Classified Cards

In a classroom setting the cards are often backed with card and laminated to help them last. If you are using them at home then consider how much use the set of cards will get. 

If you only have one child and you think the cards will only be used a few times then laminating probably isn’t worth it. Print onto thin card, if that’s the case.

On the other hand, if you have more than one child and you think the cards will get a lot of use then laminating them or placing them in plastic sleeves will protect them from wear and tear.

 

How to store Montessori cards

This is down to personal preference, a lot of people use felt or fabric pouches to store their cards. Often, they are colour coordinated to match the continents or area of study. But again, if it is just for personal use with one or two kids, stressing over all that is pointless, just use what is easiest for you.

When you put the cards out for the child to work with its nice to have them on a tray or in a basket so the child can actually see the card and get them interested. Something put away in a pouch or folder is easily overlooked.

How to use Montessori 3 part cards
How to use Montessori 3 part cards

Introduction Of Montessori Nomenclature cards

  1. First, put the cards in a basket and place on the shelf, limit the amount to 4-6 cards to start with so the child doesn’t get overwhelmed.
  1. Roll out a mat and then bring the cards to the mat (remember that in Montessori we use the work cycle. Prepare the area, get the workout, do the work, put everything away. If you need more info about the work cycle, read this)
  1. Show the child the cards and start talking about them, ask questions about what is on the cards:
    1. Have you seen… 
    2. Do you remember when we tried… 
    3. What do you think it smells/tastes/feels like…
Keep it light-hearted and fun 🙂
  1. When you are ready, take the control cards and from LEFT to RIGHT* place one card down at a time and say

“This is… “
“Can you say…?”

Sometime the child won’t repeat the word, that is OK for now.

*We always place the cards left to right as that is the way that we read and write, if you are using a language like Hebrew which reads right to left then present the cards that way. This is an important step as it is a secondary function of the presentation of the cards, getting the child used to the direction that we read and write.

  1. With the cards still laid out say:

“Show me…” 

This is to check the child comprehension and memory.

Use positive reinforcement when they get it right, if they get it wrong then go through the presentation again with the cards they are getting stuck on.

Do not move on from this stage until the child knows all the cards. 

Stages Of Use Of 3 Part Cards

Stages Of Use Of 3 Part Cards

Once the child knows the cards you can start having fun with them. These stages usually happen gradually as the child develops. It’s important to keep an eye on which developmental cycle the child is in so that you can introduce the right stage to them.

STAGE 1 Matching The Images
  • Present the cards, as usual, using the control cards and laying them out left to right.
  • Then take out the picture cards and match the images. Pick up the first card look at it and then at the cards laid out (in an exaggerated movement) and place the matching card under the control card.
  • Continue until all the cards have been used up.
  • Then pick up all the cards, put them in the basket and invite the child to have a go.

Once the child can match all the cards, you can gradually increase the number of cards being used.

A kid is learning new information through Montessori cards
STAGE 2 Matching The Image and an object

For this stage, you need a set of cards and an object that matches each one.

  • Present the cards, as usual, using the control cards and laying them out left to right.
  • Then take out the objects and match the images. Pick up the first object look at it and then at the cards laid out and place the matching object under the control card.
  • Continue until all the objects have been used up.
  • Then pick up all the cards and objects, put them in the basket and invite the child to have a go.

This uses more developed critical thinking as it is matching a 2D image with a 3D object which might not look the same. You might have a photo of a black dog but the object is a spotty dog.

You can make this stage easier by taking photos of the objects and turning them into cards. However, often kids will make the jump from stage 1 to stage 2 quite easily when they are ready.

STAGE 3 Matching The Control Card With The Label Card

When your child starts to take an interest in letters and reading you can introduce the label cards.

  • Present the cards, as usual, using the control cards and laying them out left to right.
  • Pick up the first label card, look at it, use your finger to read it. 
  • Then place it under the correct control card.
  • Continue until all the label cards have been used up.
  • Finish by checking that the label card and the control card match.
  • Pick up all the cards and objects, put them in the basket and invite the child to have a go.

Even children who are not yet reading can do this stage as they will start by matching the shapes of the letters. It is a great exercise for emergent readers.

A child is learning shapes through Montessori 3 part cards
STAGE 4 Matching The Object Card With The Label Card

This is the same as stage 3 but this time the child has to be able to read the label card to be able to match it to its object card.

  • Present the cards, as usual, this time using the object cards and laying them out left to right.
  • Pick up the first label card, look at it, use your finger to read it. 
  • Then place it under the correct object card.
    Deliberately make a mistake and put the wrong label under the object card.
  • Continue until all the label cards have been used up.
  • Now show the child how to check if they got everything correct. Take out the control cards, match the image and then check that the text matches too. 
  • If it matches, place the control card under the label card and do the next one.
  • When you get to one that is wrong, take the label card away.
  • Once all the correct label cards are down, try and match the leftover (incorrect) label cards again, then check your work again. Showing the child how they can check their own work.

Many of the Montessori materials have this control of error system built in so that the child knows when they have made a mistake and can self-correct.

Using Montessori 3 part cards for education

To wrap up. If you are wondering whether Montessori 3 part cards are worth their price, the answer is YES! The kids can learn so much from these cards and they are so versatile.

You will probably find that your child will revisit the cards again and again over the years but use them differently as they get older.

If you are looking for cards to buy, I have some over in the Etsy store and if you buy my Montessori Inspired Activities For Pre-Schoolers Book, I have some free bundles to go with it, just email me the receipt and I’ll send them over.

Are you looking to learn more about Montessori?
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Step by Step guide - How to use Montessori 3 Part Cards