Three Period Lesson

From Montessori Album

The three period lesson is the basic method for teaching vocabulary. It is used with all sorts of Montessori materials. The items for which the vocabulary is being taught are usually presented in groups of three.

The Lesson

To prepare for the lesson, the teacher should pick three clearly distinguishable items from a category. These should be taken to a mat or table.
As an example, when teaching colors, we might start with red, yellow and blue.

Period 1: The child is taught the names of the objects

The teachers points to each one at a time and says:
"This is red."
"This is blue."
"This is yellow."

Period 2: The child is asked to recognize and find the object

The teacher asks the child to point out each one:
"Which one is red?"
"Which one is blue?"
"Which one is yellow?"

Period 3: The child is asked to name the object

The teacher points to each one at a time and asks:
"What is this?"


The longest and most important step is the second part of the lesson. This is where the bulk of the learning takes place.

  • It would get very boring for the child and the teacher if we stuck only to “Which one is red? Which one is blue?” Mix it up a little by saying things like, “Hand me yellow. Put blue in your lap. Hold red above your head. Hide yellow behind your back. Move blue to this corner.” etc. For each action, ask about each of the items in the group and then move on to another action.
  • Also, you should usually begin each action with the item you did last with the previous action. Red, yellow, blue. Then blue, red, yellow. Then yellow, blue, red.

If the child makes a mistake at any point (pointing to blue when you asked him to point to red) don’t correct him or point out the error, simply go back briefly to the first part of the lesson. Similarly, if the child makes a mistake in the third part of the lesson, don’t make any comment to point out the mistake, just go back and work more in the second part of the lesson.

When introducing a new item in a set, it works well to lay it out with two other items with which the child is already familiar.

Further Reading