How To Give a 3-Period Lesson

Three-period lessons are used throughout the Montessori environment to help introduce a new lesson and lead the children toward understanding and mastery. However, in language, they are used to increase, enrich, and broaden a child’s vocabulary.

Practice presenting a three-period lesson several times until you are comfortable giving it with ease. There are no set movements or patterns that you must follow in each of the periods. As long as you understand the principle of the period and keep it simple and focused, you can ask the child to do whatever is appropriate for the setting, object, or idea you are teaching.

Begin by presenting the child with three objects of contrast and isolate them on a table or mat. For this example, the objects will be a dog, a snake, and bird.

  1. First Period – Naming Period
    • This period is overall rather short as it simply involves giving the object a name
    • Point to the first object (dog) and say “dog”
    • Repeat the name several times, clearly and slowly “This is a dog. Can you say dog? Dog”
    • Continue with the second and third objects (snake and bird)
    • Once all three objects have been named, review them one last time by pointing to each one and saying the name

It is known that we have an easier time remembering items at the beginning and end of lists and have the most challenging time remembering the items in the middle. When deciding what order to place the three objects in, place the object you are sure your child is most familiar with in the middle to increase his chance of success. The first and last objects should be the newer objects.

  1. Second Period – Recognition and Association
    • re-arrange the objects and ask the child to show you a specific object
    • “Please show me the snake”
    • “Can you place the bird in my hand”
    • Point to a spot on the table - “please put the dog here”
    • “Put the bird on the basket”
    • “Hold the dog in your hand”
    • Ask the child to close their eyes while you move the objects around, then continue

This period is much longer than the first to extend the handling and movement of the objects. This handling and movement increases the kinesthetic memory and will solidify a child’s recognition of the object’s name. There are many variations in the second period that can be used to hold a child’s interest. The movement will make the lesson more attractive and help the child be successful, so be creative!

  1. Third Period – Recall
    • Place the three objects back in front of the child
    • Point to the first object and ask, “What is this?”
    • Repeat with the second and third object

This is the ‘testing’ period. This is, in fact, the first time you have asked the child to verbally recall the object's name. It is important to proceed to this period only if you feel the child will be successful. If the child is unable to recall the names of the objects, give the names again and casually end the lesson without making the child feel as though they’ve failed.