The Montessori 3 Period Lesson

The Montessori 3 Period Lesson 

It has been 2 years since we wrote about the 3 Period Lesson (3PL) when we had what, like 10 subscribers!  I think it's overdue to refresh this important keystone element used in many of our EllieFun Boxes

Basically, the 3PL is a teaching method often used in Montessori. It's so simple yet so effective, it's mind-blowing!  It works extremely well for teaching very young children simple and straightforward concepts, eg. colours, shapes, letter sounds etc.  It works very well with answering the "what is" kind of questions, not so much for the "how" or "why" kind of questions.  

The 3PL works really well in a Montessori classroom with the Montessori materials mainly because the materials are all carefully made or chosen with only 1 differing quality.  For example, when we are teaching colours, the Montessori teacher brings out the colour tablets - wooden chips of uniform size, shape and material; only the colours are different.  So when the teacher says "This is red," "This is blue," the child knows red and blue refer only to the colours, and not the texture or shape. 

In the home environment, it will be good if we can find materials that are similar, but I don't think it's a huge deal-breaker.  Personally, I think it's fine, even advantageous, to be less didactic at home so we engage the child more naturally and conversationally, exposing him to what's already familiar in the home environment.  This is especially so if we are only supplementing and not fully homeschooling.  You can still point out the colour of the blue whale soft toy or the black and white panda which are so loved.

How to Carry Out a 3 Period Lesson

3 parts to this lesson: 

1st Period (Teaching)
Show the child 1 picture/item at a time and say, "This is..."  Name the object or concept (no lengthy explanation needed at this point). 

2nd Period (Checking for understanding) 
Place all 3 pictures/items in front of your child and ask, "Can you point to the ...".  If he can point accurately, then you know your child has understood your lesson. If he can't, then you know he has not understood your lesson.  Maybe you need to re-evaluate if it was just that moment when he's tired, or the materials aren't suitable or perhaps he is just not ready to learn the concept. 

3rd Period (Testing to see if the child can articulate what has been learnt) 
Take away the 3 pictures/items and only present 1 at a time, asking "What is this?" If your child cannot verbalize, go back to 1st Period and refresh his memory.  
*Note: skip 3rd period if your child is younger than 2 years old* 

I'm going to show you how I teach Zach, 3.5 years some phonics sounds <-- I'm a bit self-conscious!  It's our first video!   *Seeing it now 2 years later! *cringe cringe*! 

Looks simple yeah?  I think what's great about 3PL is that it forces me to think through what is it that I want to teach my child and then drill down and focus on that 1 thing, cut out the fluff. How often when we want to teach something, we go halfway around the world and the poor child is just inundated with information.  When dealing with young children, just keep it simple, keep it short.  We can always revisit the concept and build on it next time.  Worst still, I'm often guilty of testing without teaching!  I just straight into "What is this?  What is that?"  Sigh, how come you don't know xxx?" 😞

3PL gives us clear steps for
- teaching
- checking for understanding and
- checking for articulation

It gives me the confidence that I can teach my kids something - simple things. Even if they may not get the lesson yet, I know to either repeat the lesson, try with another set of materials, or wait for another time when they are developmentally more ready. 

Feel free to shoot us questions on how to use the 3PL!


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