Easiest way to use 3-part cards

Hey ladies (or anyone who’d find this useful), as promised here’s a look at how I use this Montessori-inspired 3-part cards with my kids. I would like to highlight that this is my version of how I use the cards with my children, which may be different from the methods out there. I prefer a more discussive approach with my kids and they like it when I relate it to their experiences. There is no right or wrong way – use the cards in the best way you can with your child and what matters is their interest is sustained and they enjoy the activity. 😍

Before I get into the details, here are the things I considered before carrying out the activity and I highly encourage you do this too:

1) Follow your child’s interest.

My daughter was asking so much about flowers and plants during our walks. She asked about how flowers came about, why Bird’s Nest Fern grows on branches or near trees, why flowers have different colours etc. I knew I had to do something to expand on this interest and decided to choose flowers as a topic for this activity. As for my son, he is obsessed with land animals and was showing some interest with marine animals. So I took the opportunity to expand his knowledge by choosing marine animals as the topic of choice for this activity.

If your child has an interest in vehicles, use a vehicle-themed card for his activity. If your child has an interest in playground, use a playground-themed card. They will be more interested to do this activity if you follow their interest!

2) Identify your child’s development level.

How you use your cards depend on your child’s ability and level of development. In this post, I will share with you how I do it with my 6+yo daughter and 2+ yo son, based on their level of ability. Do know however that my children’s age is just a guide. I always believe that a child’s age is never a limit when it comes to learning and that each child learns at his/her own pace.

3) Make this available easily for your child on his learning shelf.

Give your child the autonomy to make the decision to access it freely. Only then, your child will be learning it at his own free will and not because you are forcing him to. When he does it often enough, he will know the drill and he will be open to learning new topics.

4) Use real images as far as possible!

Help your child to look for beauty and logic through the photos you provide for them by using real images e.g. real picture representation of animals, vehicles, nature. To stimulate a child’s imagination, give them real photos of objects and a real understanding of the world.

Card components:

These cards are so versatile and can be used is so many ways to build interest, vocabulary and early literacy. The 3-part cards are made of 3 parts:

an object/picture card – has only a photo on it.

a label card – only word(s) which describes the photo

a control card – consists of both the same photo and word(s)

How I use these cards with my 2.5yo son:

Stage 1: My 2 year old is not reading yet, so I start off really simple for him – matching control card to the picture card (no label cards needed). I point the words and read out the name of each animal to him and asked him to match the control card to the correct picture card. As he does this for a couple of days, he will get familiar with the marine animals.

My son can stay focused but not as long as his older sister. So I started off with 6 picture cards so as not to overwhelm him with too many. You can start off with more or less, depending on your child’s ability and his focus level. You can have more rounds if your child asks for more but stick to the same number for each session. Increase the number of cards for each round during the next session when you feel like he is ready to do with more.

Matching 6 control cards to the picture cards. Marine animal cards from Toymany.

Stage 2: Once he has mastered the 1st stage (which took 2 days for him), I increased the number of cards per round as he is more familiar with the animals. He then matched the picture card to the animal figurines (his idea). He had so much fun doing this part as he plays with his figurines often and recognises them.

Stage 3: By this stage, I found that we was quite ready to use the label cards as he was able to recognise and say out the names of most marine animals through the picture or control cards. He matched the label card to the control card by comparing both words. Don’t be surprised if your child is not really reading yet but managed to read out just the label cards (without the photos!). Try it with your child – go through each stage carefully several times and introduce the different elements at the right time by following their lead.

After many practices, he managed to complete matching the control card to the picture card & the figurines to the 12 cards during his first round.
Last stage: Matching the label card to the picture card.

Marine animal cards from Toymany.

Stage 4: When he is older and could read and write like his sister, there are plenty of activities he could do to extend his learning. He could use an animal atlas book to read more about the sea animals or go to River Wonders (in Singapore) to see the real life connection and link what they have learnt at home to the real world.

How I use these cards with my 6.5yo daughter:

My daughter is able to read and understand well. So she started off by looking at all the control cards (I started with 10 pieces first) and placing it neatly on the mat. From there, she was introduced to the photo of each flower and the name. I encouraged her to read out the names of each flower. By looking at the photos on the picture card, she then matched it to the same flower by placing it next to corresponding control card.

We then turned over each control card face-down. Next, she attempted to identify the flowers by matching each label card to the picture card. After completing all 12 label cards, she did her own self-check by turning over the control card to reveal the answer. If she made a mistake, she will learn from there and try again the next round. This increases her resilience and confidence level, and gives her the signal that mistakes are okay!

Step 1: Place each picture card neatly on the mat. If your child already has some knowledge of the topic, ask him to guess the name of the object in the picture card as he places each card on the mat.
Step 2: Do photo matching by matching the control card to the picture card. Encourage your child to read out the name of each flower on the control card.
Step 3: Turn over all control cards face down. Using the label cards, ask your child to guess the name of the flowers by matching and placing the label card below each picture card.
Step 4: Self-check: turn over the control cards to check the answers.

When she’s ready, level up the activity by using an additional part – the information card. Here’s an example of what we did with the solar system-themed card.

Repeating this activity on another day – with information card.
Solar system 3-part cards from http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net
Helping with the preparation of the information cards.
Solar system 3-part cards from http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net

The activity with my daughter can be full of discussion – she likes to ask questions about the flowers and link what she has learnt to real life. You can let your child do the activity alone while you observe from far, sit next to them quietly or have a robust discussion with them – just follow their lead!

Here is the link to the website which distributed the 3-part cards I used in this post! The printables are free but will require you to subscribe to their email. I wish you all the best and happy learning with your children!


Always cheering you on,

Shiella A.

IG: @tidyingmytinyspace

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