Friday, March 04, 2011

Working with Words and the 3-Period-Lesson

Besides doing Montessori I'm also using a few workbooks with Ella which are grade-specific.  Usually she enjoys doing them and it means that I can compare what she is able to do with what the public curriculum expects.
What she is learning in Montessori I supplement with the workbooks and what she is learning in the workbooks I supplement with Montessori.  Here is an example of the latter.

The workbooks have been going over nouns and verbs.  I have not yet got the material for grammar through Montessori (though I plan to), but I did make up a couple hundred word cards that she could use to make sentences.


I used cardstock in three colours.  The nouns are on red paper, the verbs are on yellow, and what we are currently calling "helping words" are on blue.  I have told her that there are a lot of different kinds of "helping words" and they have names, just like verbs and nouns do, but for right now we're just focusing on the verbs and the nouns.

To present the material I began laying out all the nouns that were the names of places.  I asked her to explain what was the same about these words.  Didn't take her long.  Then I began to lay out nouns that referred to people or were people's names and asked her to say what she thought they had in common.  Finally I laid out all of the words that identified objects and again got her to point out what was similar about them all.

"All of these words are called nouns," I explained.  "Nouns name either a person, a place, or an object."

We repeated the lesson with verbs and talked about how verbs were an action or what someone or something is.

Then we began to make sentences.  Very soon she knew how to use the cards and made longer and longer sentences, sometimes making them rather complex.

Although I had made all the verbs to be present, third person, singular she found that too confining and began to use the word that came after a verb to cover up the superfluous "s."

During our second lesson using the word cards Ella learned the difference between subject and object.  For this I used the 3-period-lesson.  If you're not familiar with the 3-period-lesson here it is in simple form:

First Period: Tell the child what he or she is touching/experiencing.  E.g. This is the subject.  In a sentence the subject is what does the action.  This is the object.  In a sentence the object is what receives the action done by the subject.  The key to the first period is keeping it simple and to-the-point.  With a younger child, such as my sons, I would endeavour to use as few words as possible and keep the emphasis on the word I am trying to get them to learn.  So, when I am presenting the colour red from the first set of colour tablets, I lay the tablet on the table in front of the boy I'm working with and say, "This is redRed."

Second Period: Get the child to indicate the correct object when you ask.  E.g.  Where is the subject?  Show me the object.  With my boys I'd ask, "Where is red?"  or "Which is red?" (if I had already presented more than one colour.  If the child has difficulty then you go back and repeat the first period lesson again.

Third Period:  For this you want the child to do the explaining and to use the correct vocabulary without prompting.  E.g.  I would point to the subject and ask "What is this?" or "What part of the sentence is this?"  Then Ella would answer "It's the subject.  The subject is what's doing the action."  With the very young you are simply trying to teach them to identify, they can learn to explain later.  So I would ask, "What is this?" or "What colour is this?"  Henry is my talker and he will usually answer verbally, "Wed!"  Or, sometimes, "'Ellow!" and then I have to correct him.  Eli may or may not answer and after giving him a chance I will give him the answer, "It's red!"

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