I don’t remember where I learned about Montessori 3-part cards, but they seemed like such a brilliant way to learn information. In a Montessori classroom, they are used to learn nomenclature (the names or labels of things). For example, there might be cards to learn the parts of a tree (leaves, trunk, roots, etc.). The child matches the picture to the labels, then uses control cards to check their work. In this way, the cards are self-correcting. The child does not need a teacher to tell him whether he’s right or wrong.
When I was in college and grad school, I was a big fan of flashcards. Seeing one piece of information and having to recall the other piece is an effective study method (both in my opinion and as has been scientifically verified). However, I’m not a huge fan of using flashcards with young kids. I believe learning should ideally be much more natural in childhood.
However, there are times when kids will need or want to remember bits of information. Montessori-style nomenclature cards make this memorization into a game. Inspired by these cards, I’ve made a bunch of cards for my own kids (and myself), but instead of matching just the picture to the label, I’ve included a bit of information about each term as well. Therefore, rather than 3-part cards (picture, label, control), my cards have more parts so that not only can kids choose to match the picture to the label, but they can match the label to the information as well.
Even though I used these cards casually with my oldest while he was in kindergarten, I don’t recommend pressuring young kids to memorize the information on these cards. In many ways, I made them more for me than for him. However, as my kids grow older, I hope they find these cards to be helpful. After all, while we may have endless information at our fingertips in this digital world, what we store in our own head is more useful in the long run.
Click here for more Montessori Learning activities for kids.