Learning in 3 Easy Steps: The Three Period Lesson Technique

The 3 Period Lesson

The “three period lesson” is used throughout the Montessori environment to help introduce a new lesson/concept and lead the children along a path to understanding and mastery. In the area of language this is used to increase, enrich, and broaden a child’s vocabulary.

It’s important to practice the method of presenting the 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 concept you are teaching.

Begin by presenting the child with three objects of contrast and isolate them on a table or mat. In this example, I will be using 3 landmarks from our Landmarks of the World collection: Big Ben, Taj Mahal and Pyramids of Giza.

1. First Period: Naming Period

This period is short as it simply involves giving the object a name (“THIS IS”).

a. Pick up the object and say “Big Ben” while showing it to your child.
b. Repeat it clearly and slowly several times. As you do this, show and let the child feel the object.
c. Continue on with the second and third objects. In this case, the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower.
d. Once you’ve named them, review them one more time by pointing or holding each of them individually.

2. Second Period: Recognition and Association

This period is longer as it involves recalling the objects repeatedly (“SHOW ME”).

a. Note the object that the child knows best. (Micah loves the Big Ben and it quickly became his favorite. He remembered it right away because he associated it with his uncle’s name which was Ben.)
b. Rearrange the objects and ask the child to show you a specific object.

“Can you please show me the Big Ben?”
“Put the Taj Mahal on your head.”
“Hand me the Eiffel Tower.”
“Put the _______ here/ there/etc.” You can point to a spot on the table/mat or in the child’s body.

c. Important reminder: this is not the time to test the child.

You can extend the handling and movement of the objects to encourage kinesthetic memory. This also allows the child to solidify his recognition of the object’s name. Make it fun and interactive. Be as creative as you want. The more engaged your child is the more he/she will want to continue. This period is the most critical therefore the longest. It’s all about REINFORCE AND REVIEW.

3. Third Period: The Test

This involves asking the child to verbally recall for the first time the name of the objects (“WHAT IS THIS?”).
a. Place the 3 objects back in front of the child.
b. Point to the first object and ask the child, “What is this?”
c. Repeat with the second and third object.

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, simply give them the names again or repeat the second period.

We have the hardest time remembering the times in the middle of the list. The items at the beginning and at the end are easier to recall. To help your child ease his/her way to recalling the names, here are some tricks you can use:

1. Make sure you place the new object at the beginning or the end.
2. Place the object that your child knows best in the middle to increase his comfort level.
3. The last object can be new or somewhat familiar to the child.

If you decide to continue after he/she has made a mistake or has forgotten the name, begin with the last object mentioned, kindly reinforcing it immediately. Even if you rotate the objects, always put the familiar one in the middle.

If the child is unable to recall the names of the objects, simply give them the names again, and casually end the lesson without making the child feel as though they’ve failed.

Remember to always make learning fun! Your child should find joy in discovering new things. He/she should not fear making mistakes because it’s all part of the learning process. 🙂 Hope you’ll enjoy doing the 3 Period Lesson with your little one!

*Micah really enjoyed learning about these landmarks and we have moved on to the second set. The landmarks in this collection include: Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Statue of Liberty, Arc of Triumph, Taj Mahal, Parthenon, Temple of Inscriptions and Pyramids of Giza. The pictures did not come with the collection. I just googled the images of the landmarks, printed them and laminated them so he can match the items with the pictures.



The Sorry Story

I came home one Saturday from brunch with one of my girlfriends and I found my husband watching TV on the couch with my newborn. I greeted him with a smile and asked him how the morning went with the boys. I asked him where Micah was and he said he was napping already. I looked at the clock and realized he put him to sleep a little earlier than usual. I also noticed that my husband had a frustrated look on his face. He told me that he put him down early because Micah didn’t want to eat and was throwing a fit about it.

Our little boy is typically a good eater and has no problems finishing his meals on his own. I was surprised because he was served peanut butter and jelly, which was a huge treat for him, yet he barely ate a bite. I could see that Chris was clearly frustrated about the situation. After an hour or so, Micah woke up crying. I went to his bedroom to check on him and found out that he had thrown up. He looked weak and sick. He called out to mommy for comfort. My heart sank when I saw him looking helpless and miserable. His eyes were watery and he did not look well. He said, “Look…I’m sorry, Mama.” while pointing down at the yucky stuff on his bed). I said, “It’s okay honey. Mama will clean you up and take care of this.”

I quickly cleaned him up and brought him to Chris so I can change his sheets and throw them in the wash. When Micah saw his dad, he knew Papa was still upset. He said, “Sorry papa, no eat lunch.” Chris said, “Yes, Micah did not eat lunch. Not okay, Micah. You can have it for snack.” in a stern voice. I looked at my husband and signalled him to drop the issue. I knew Micah didn’t eat not because he was trying to be disobedient but because he wasn’t feeling well. However, Chris didn’t acknowledge this.

I prayed about how I could break it to my husband lovingly that he was wrong about how he spoke to Micah. I knew in my heart that he was aware of it but needed a kind reminder of the truth. God prompted me to speak to him privately as Micah played in the other room. I reminded him of the verse, “Fathers do not exasperate your children” from Ephesians 6:4. I told him I knew that he just wanted Micah to eat his lunch and obey Daddy. His intentions were right but his delivery was wrong. Praise God my husband was sensitive to the Spirit and acknowledged his fault. He knew he had to apologize to his 22-month-old son. He called Micah, put him on his lap and said “Micah, Papa is sorry for getting mad at you during lunch today. Please forgive Papa.” Micah said, “Okay papa” and gave him a hug. Chris wondered if Micah actually got the point because that was all he said and it was over. I reassured him that even if we couldn’t really tell if Micah understood it, there will be a benefit to his act of humility. If we want to teach our boys to be humble and admit if they are wrong, we need to model it ourselves and this includes apologizing to them, too.

A few days later, Micah got really frustrated and started hitting Chris in the face. Chris quickly looked Micah in the eyes and told him, “Micah, you need to stop. This is not okay. You are hurting Papa.” Micah immediately stopped but we could tell he was still pretty upset. Chris asked him to calm down and apologize but Micah was hesitant. He didn’t want to say sorry initially but eventually he did. As they talked about the situation, Micah admitted that he was sorry he hit his papa. He knew what he did was wrong. His dad hugged him and told him that he still loves him but does not approve of his actions.

As I prayed with Micah before bed that night, he mentioned all the people he was thankful for. I prayed for him but right before we said amen, he said, “Mama, I sorry I hit Papa. Micah sorry Jesus.” My heart melted. I knew God was working in his little precious heart. I told him that daddy forgave him but that Jesus did too.

This incident made me realize that our boys are watching our every move and if we want to teach them humility and forgiveness, we need to model these ourselves. We want them to know that no matter what they do, we will always love and forgive them. As much as they are accountable to us and to the Lord, we are also accountable to God for how we are raising our children. It is our hearts’ desire to raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Therefore, we need to walk the talk and practice what we preach. We pray that we will live out God’s desire for our children. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We believe that every parent should live by this truth if we want our children to grow up in a way that honors God. ☺

Father & Son moment: praying and studying God’s word together.

I am so blessed to raise my boys along side a man who loves and fears the Lord. What a great privilege it is to watch him model God’s character to them everyday. He is not perfect but seeing him grow in faithfulness, wisdom and godliness makes me feel so proud to call him the father of my children.


Happy Father’s Day to my dear husband and also to all the fathers out there. May your children see the love of Christ through you everyday.