Three part cards are an important element of Montessori materials. They are extremely versatile in that you can use them as aids in a wide variety of subject areas. Use them for maths, reading, science, geography… anything. And they are very simple to make and to customize to your family’s needs. You can copy and paste images to trace or print onto your cards, or, if you are particularly handy with a paintbrush or coloured pencils, you can create your own artwork.
For simplicity’s sake, I made colour nomenclature cards for my littlest ones to work with. They are super-quick to make and you probably have the materials right there at home.
- 12 index cards (or cut your own from white or cream cardstock)
- watercolour paints
- permanent marker
- laminating sheets and laminator (optional)
I chose to do primary and secondary colours, but you can do as many as you’d like. Add in brown, black and white, make tertiary colour cards… I just mixed my own from what I had here.
You want to paint squares of each colour on pairs of cards – two red ones, two blue ones, etc. When they are dry, print the names of the colours on the cards. In hindsight, I should have printed ours in D’Nealian handwriting since that’s what I’m teaching them. Easily done over later.
Now take one set of cards and cut them in half. You now have three part cards – one complete card set to be used as the control cards, one set of colours, one set of printed colour names. I feel that it is a really good idea to laminate the cards if you can. it is spendy, however. Laminating makes the cards last much longer, and you can wipe them clean in case a baby brother gets ahold of them while snacking. 🙂
Alternately, you could paint decoupage medium (like Mod Podge) over the front and back of each card. You’ll probably want to do several coats, and probably before cutting the cards.
Now, to use the materials, show your little one all of the cards – controls and their matching picture and name cards. Show them how they match up, that the letters in the words match the ones on the control cards. Now, let your little one try. Take up all of the ‘cut’ cards and mix them around. Leave the control cards out at first. Let her match them up. Let her make mistakes and then ask if everything matches exactly. Point out errors so that she can understand what to look for next time.
Eventually, she will be able to recognize by sight which words go with which colours, without using the control cards. And she will start to be able to pick the words out of books she’s reading with you.
You can do the same with letters and sounds, numbers and their qualities, shapes, natural science, history – whatever you can think of. This is also a fun way of introducing English as a second language to an older child (which we will soon be doing), or of introducing a foreign language to your children.
I would love to see the cards you come up with. Send me a link when you make some!