Activity of the Day – Matching and the Three Period Lesson

We have been working recently on matching activities and Joshua has been demonstrating an interest and ability to match different items so I decided to offer this via the 3 period lesson.

Montessori educators employ unique materials and strategies to formally teach vocabulary and reading. In order to build vocabulary and support a child’s expressive and receptive language capabilities, we utilise a technique called the Three Period Lesson.

Matching activities and the three period lesson has many benefits for toddlers.

  • Improving vocabulary by introducing new objects.
  • Clarifying understanding and ability to demonstrate knowledge.
  • Developing recognition skills and improving the child’s understanding of symbolic representation of objects, a crucial prerequisite for learning to read.
  • Practicing visual discrimination and learning to connect objects to print is a necessary pre-reading skill.

I was aware of the Three Period Lesson but decided to seek some advice in introducing this from a good friend and trained Montessori teacher, Jessica who runs the lovely Montessori Child Shop. She advised me to introduce the names of the objects choosing two or three objects at a time (trying to choose a few that are visually dissimilar) and following this pattern:

  1. Place one object (at a time) in front of the child while clearly stating its name. Repeat this for each object. After presenting each object then move onto the next step.
  2. Place the objects together in front of the child and ask the child to identify the object that you name (eg. “Show me/Point to the strawberry).
    If the child correctly identifies each, mix up the items and repeat the step a few times. If the child consistently identifies the objects correctly you can move on to the next step.
  3. Place one object (at a time) in front of the child and ask the child to identify it by name (e.g. “What is this?” or “What is the name of this?”).

Other uses that these cards can have are as follows:

  • Matching the small pictures to the control card – we have been working on this recently.
  • Playing memory games and trying to match pairs.
  • Leading the child toward abstraction by identifying pictures as items rather than with real concrete items (we started our exercises in matching using real objects, many months ago).
  • Exposure to written words – while Joshua may not be ready for long words or writing, it is important to expose him to the written words as this helps with preparation for reading and writing in the coming years.

This is the three period lesson in action – we are confidently up to stage 2 and wavering between stages 2 and 3 depending on the complexity of the word.



20140312_152903 20140312_152907You will note with the three period lesson and specifically the matching component – with the model – concrete learning – and abstract (matching the cards) – that I ensure that Joshua is not placing the cards or items directly onto the control card. This is not desirable as covering the control card removes the control of error component (this allows the child to check their own work and correct any errors).

We have been working on matching vegetables, fruits, animals and other everyday objects and have expanded to musical instruments.

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20140331_162639 20140331_164033 20140331_164206

In addition to the tree period lesson I also introduced shadow matching as part of the exercise and do this as step 4. If I have the shadow (as with the instruments) I have placed these below the control card so that the model can be matched by placing it on top of it. If I have just the control card then I still encourage Joshua to place it below the card so that he can see what he is matching to.

An expansion on this exercise will be to introduce the real instrument so that Joshua can match the real instrument to the “real” picture that is provided in this set. There are so many ways this can go, our family actually own a fair number of the real instruments so Joshua might be really interested to hear and see the real instrument being played!

For me personally, this exercise has been a learning curve too. I have watched Joshua’s skills develop over a number of months and have been observing him move from concrete to abstract. I had not realised the work involved to move from concrete to abstract, these are abilities we take for granted, having already mastered these skills. I am learning patience and to slow the process down – something that the 3 period lesson helps me to do as I have to make sure I cover all parts before moving onto introducing new objects. I introduce 3 items at a time and stop when Joshua either loses interest or is tired. I also introduce these activities in the afternoon after lunch as Joshua usually likes to spend the morning on physical or art activities.


8 thoughts on “Activity of the Day – Matching and the Three Period Lesson

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this post 🙂 this is montessori in our home and I am following Joshua’s interests and he has been flourishing using the 3 step lesson. I love this activity as it so clearly gives the child the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and builds confidence.

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