How-to Use 3-Part Cards

I first discovered 3-Part Cards when researching the Montessori method of schooling. The official name for these cards are “Nomenclature Cards”, coming from the Latin word nomenclatura, which means “assigning of names”. They are basically an image with a corresponding label. They come in a whole form and in a split form. The whole cards include the word and image together on one card. The split cards separate the word from the image. This provides endless opportunities for matching and word recognition. 3-Part Cards can be used in every subject area, and the main purpose is for vocabulary building and reading.

We first began using 3-Part Cards when I discovered Kaitlyn from Simply Learning. She provides them with her free literature units, which is what we were using before The Peaceful Preschool. I saw my 3-year-old begin to put meaning to words, and I was amazed at how quickly he caught on to them. I truly believe that 3-Part Cards were a huge contributor to his early reading.

Kaitlyn now uses The Peaceful Preschool as well, and is a great resource for supplemental ideas and free printables, including 3-Part Cards for each letter of the alphabet. I love using them so much in our schooling that I began to create Real-Life 3-Part Cards to correlate with her illustrated ones. I wanted to introduce my children to the real animals and items, unlike they see in most picture books, which aligns with Montessori teaching. For each letter of the alphabet, I will be creating Real-Life 3-Part Cards to correlate. So far, you can find A-L here.

I prefer to print our 3-Part Cards on cardstock and laminate them. I plan to use these cards for years with multiple children, so they really benefit from durability. I love this color printer and use this inexpensive laminator with these laminating pouches. Scissors will do for cutting out laminated cards, but having a paper cutter for this task makes prep so much faster.

There are multiple ways you can use these cards, depending on the ability and interest of your child. It is also fun, but not necessary to have small items for your child to use for matching as well. Here are four main ways we use them.

1. Basic matching of any combination. Item to picture, item to word, picture to picture, word to picture, and word to word. I often leave them out on our Tot Tray shelf for the children to explore on their own throughout the day.

2. Movement matching. I also use movement games when we are matching, such as having them pick a word, complete a short obstacle course, and match the word to the picture at the end.

3. Memory matching. Flip all of the cards face down and take turns flipping them two at a time to try to make a match. I suggest using the whole cards for this, so that they are constantly seeing the word as well. If you have a reader, you could do the same game but match the split picture to the word.

4. Hide and Seek matching. During sensory play, hide the split pictures in rice or lentils and keep the words on the table. For my younger daughter I will hide one form of the pictures and the other form of the pictures will go on the table. They will dig to find a picture and then find the correlating word on the table to match.

There are endless ways to use these simple cards and I know over time I will just continue to find new ways to use them to engage my little ones. How do you use them? I would love to hear!