Three questions that we get asked frequently! There
is nothing to be afraid of .... Montessori nomenclature is fun,
educational and easy to use. It's so easy that you can learn by using it
right alongside your children.
1. What is Montessori
Nomenclature cards and booklets
identify and name the various parts of the object or animal you are
learning about. Each part is isolated in color which draws your
attention to that particular part and not to superfluous details.
Most of our Nomenclature is
designed in a 3-Part Card and Book Series.
Some Montessori schools use a 5-part card format.
Part 1 - Card with label, Card without label, label
Part 2 - Book
Part 3 - Picture Cards and Descriptions Cards
Part 4 - Description Cards (with a blank) and Labels
Part 5 - Definition Strips
We have the 5 basic sets of 5-Part Definition Sets, however we've found that most prefer the 3-part format. There are fewer pieces involved (fewer pieces to get lost), and it's less complicated for the younger children (3-6 years) to manage.
Cards consist of 1 set of cards with labels, 1 set of cards without
labels, 1 set of labels, 1 black-line master. Each part is shown in color. This helps to isolate the exact part that is being taught.
Booklet (can also be used in card format) has 1 set of labeled
picture cards, 1 set of definition cards.
2. Why do we use it?
Children gain a much clearer and deeper understanding our
world when they have vocabulary to put with movements and images. They
say a picture is worth a thousand words, but add a label and now you're
talking! From a very young age children ask what things are called.
Think back to when your young toddler began to understand the value of
words. He said 'wa-wa' (water), and the look of comprehension and pure
pleasure in your eyes was enough for them to chant the same word over,
and over, and over again - even after you made sure they had their fill
of water! Finally they remembered what it was called, knew how to ask
for it (albeit they needed time to work on their pronunciation), and
they were understood. What a glorious day. Nomenclature cards are used
for the same purpose - to name "parts of" things.
How do we use it?
The first part, the 3-Part
Cards, are primarily used the same as way as we use Classified Cards. There are many formats used to introduce terminology to young children. We prefer the following format for teaching nomenclature.
Step 1. The terminology is introduced using the
cards without the labels (typically 3 cards at time). ie. Lay down the first card - "This is a ladybug." Lay down the second card - "This is the elytra." Lay down the third card - "These are the spots."
Step 2. You can mix the cards up on the workspace (table or mat), and now ask the child to point to the parts you ask for. ie. "Can you show me the spots?". "Can you place the ladybug in my hand." "Show me the elytra". "Can you place the ladybug beside the spots?", etc. Mix the cards up and ask for each of the parts again. If the child is successfully showing you the parts, move on to Step 3. (If the child is struggling and losing interest then tactfully end the lesson as though it were meant to be over. It is important to allow the children to leave presentations/lessons with dignity.)
Step 3. Gather the 3 cards in your hand. Place 1 card down and ask "What is this?" If the child does not answer correctly you can say "This is the ....". Place another card down and repeat the question. Repeat with the third card.
Step 4. If the child successfully recalls the names of each of the three parts and still appears interested, then continue on and repeat Steps 1-3 using 3 new cards.
If the child is stumbling at any point, you can stop at that step and re-enforce the vocabulary. You want to set the child up for success, not failure. If the child is
struggling and losing interest then tactfully end the lesson as though
it were meant to be over. It is important to allow the children to leave
presentations/lessons with dignity.
If a child can read.
Once a child has learned the vocabulary for a set of nomenclature, they are free to practice it using the full set of 3-part cards. They can match the pictures with the labels, and then use the labeled picture as a 'control card' to check their own work.
When the child has a
good understanding of all the parts, and if they are still interested in the work, they can then use printed copies of
the black-line master to color and label the parts. Using all their colored and labeled pages, they create their own
Ladybug black-line master
A black-line master is a black
and white outline picture of the basic image being studied. You print
off extra copies and allow the children to color their own parts, label
each part and make it into their own booklet (see tutorial here) or wall chart.
Booklets are great
extension lesson that call for an understanding of:
the vocabulary of each part
the concept of
precision with colored pencils or paint
neatness of printing/writing
the completed work
There are some children who prefer to draw all of their own pictures and label them. This is fantastic, and should always be encouraged.
Step 5. The Book can be used in either book or card format. The children
will gain greater knowledge and understanding of each "part" and its
function as they read through the pages.
A child can practice their
printing or handwriting by copying the written portion, or attempt to
write their own description from what they remember. Designing their own
booklet using the black-line master, or drawing from memory is an
excellent way to complete the work with the nomenclature of their
Learn how to
prepare your 3-part cardshereand bind your bookletshere.
Learn how to store your Montessori Nomenclaturehere.
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