Montessori Nomenclature Cards for Elementary

Science is an important subject for young learners. Understanding science gives students the tools they need to understand the world around them. Traditional teaching techniques are not always the most effective way to help students learn. Maria Montessori developed a new teaching method in the early 20th century. The Montessori Method encourages children to engage in learning activities on their own. This type of learning promotes independence and shows children how to take charge of their own education. Montessori nomenclature cards are one of the tools that children use for independent learning.

What are Montessori nomenclature cards?

Montessori nomenclature cards are a popular tool that children use to learn about science in a fun and interactive way. The cards consist of two sets:

  1. We call one the control set. The control set includes a photo and a corresponding vocabulary word below the image.
  2. We call the other the working set. The working set has the same images and vocabulary, but they are on separate pieces of paper.

Children can use the cards to play a matching game where they place the image with the associated word. They can then use the control set to check their own work, and see which material they know, and which material they still need to study. This control of error built into the design of Montessori nomenclature cards allows children to work independently.

How to create Montessori nomenclature cards

Access to color printers makes it easier than ever to create your own nomenclature cards. For any given topic, you’ll want to come up with a list of appropriate vocabulary. Then, you’ll want to find corresponding pictures. You will want to find or create simple pictures that make it very clear which vocabulary word from the set is being portrayed. You can also take the cards one step further by adding definitions or brief explanations to each card. This is a more advanced aspect of the study tool. 

You’ll want to make two sets of your vocabulary words and images. Remember, the first set is the control set. For the second set, you’ll separate the words and images for the matching part of the activity. You can either print your images on regular paper and glue to colorful construction paper or print the images on a heavier card stock. If you have access to a laminator, you should also consider laminating the cards. Elementary kids can put a lot of wear and tear on their learning tools (this is especially true for more popular sets of nomenclature cards). Laminating the nomenclature cards will save you from having to print out new ones every week!

How to teach with Montessori nomenclature cards

One of the best parts about Montessori nomenclature cards is that students can use them for independent learning. Of course, you don’t want to just hand the cards over with no explanation. You should only have cards in your learning space that contain vocabulary words you’ve already covered in class. Once you introduce your students to the concepts or vocabulary, you can make the cards available for study. 

Introduce the cards to your class through a presentation that demonstrates how the cards work. During the demonstration, explain the matching process first, then explain how to use the control set. The control set should always be available so students can check their answers and self-correct as they work with the cards. This way, your students do not need as much hands-on assistance from the teacher.

It’s also important to tell your students they can always access the cards during their work period. A big aspect of Montessori is encouraging self-study. Your students should feel comfortable taking the cards from the shelf whenever they have free time. Instead of relying on textbooks and worksheets, your students will now have another tool in their study kit to fully engage with the material. Actively engaging with the moving Montessori nomenclature cards will make it easier for students to remember the vocabulary in the future.


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