Montessori Nomenclature

What is Montessori Nomenclature? Why do you use it? How do you use it?

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 students.

What is Montessori Nomenclature? 

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. The Nomenclature available in our store is available in red accents and color accents. The red and color accents are further divided into 3 categories: Botany, Zoology, Other (health, science, etc).

Sample of Botany

Sample of Zoology

Sample of Other

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 a few of the basic sets of 5-Part Definition Sets with color accents and red accents, 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.
Our 3-Part 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.

The Booklet (can also be used in card format) has 1 set of labeled picture cards, 1 set of definition cards.

Why do we use it? 
Children gain a much clearer and deeper understanding of 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). i.e. 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 work space (table or mat), and now ask the child to point to the parts you ask for. Example: "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.

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.

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 booklet.

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 or wall chart.

Booklets are great extension lesson that call for an understanding of:

  • the vocabulary of each part
  • the concept of each part
  • precision with colored pencils or paint
  • neatness of printing/writing
  • presentation of 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.

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 choice.

Learn how to prepare your 3-part cards, bind your books and how to store your Montessori Nomenclature.