Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Command Cards - Elementary Montessori

This post started as a quick note about Geometry Command Cards, but quickly got off on other tangents as 3 ladies asked me related questions at the same time ;) Talk about coincidence! (or alignment of the moon or something!)

Fast drawing the concept on paper
From a command card for "two lines"
note the opposite direction of the stick work
showing mastery of the concept in a different layout
Just a quick post to say that I have added sample basic geometry command cards at the end of the following previous post:

Geometry Command Cards Original Post

This file includes additional pre-formatted pages to add your own additional ones; I have left it in Word so you can edit it as you like.

More advanced versions are being added to the Keys of the Universe Geometry album.


NOT ALL CHILDREN need these command cards. Sometimes (in the case of my son) they are a great way to provide quick reviews for a slightly older homeschooled child without the benefit of having watched his peers doing the work, or helping younger ones, before moving on to more advanced work.

Sometimes a child just needs a little push into ways that he can work independently with a material.

In pure Montessori terms, the command cards should be presented only when needed to get work going, then pulled out as the children are finding ways to work independently and come up with their own ideas.

EDITING (11/27/2012) TO ADD this sentence:
*Writing* command cards is an excellent exercise for a child to develop skills in planning and organizing --- especially when there are many ideas going through his mind at once and he can't go all directions at once! So if a child hears a lesson and has 5 ideas, he can write out each of his ideas on a card - choose one to work on now, and now he has 4 ideas in back-up to pursue later that day, later that week, or just later in life.

Again - in the homeschool, I see more of a use for them from to time.
  • get work going
  • encourage working independently when toddlers and babies and teens or home businesses need a parent's attention
  • as review for that middle aged child (8-9) to review concepts not explored recently before moving on to more advanced work. 
  • As a way of monitoring work, combined with the work plan and work journal. 
  • I DO NOT recommend using as your child's sole source of inspiration for work. Use them judiciously. 

How do I feel about the curriculum cards created by Albanesi?
You are about to read a completely wide open, honest and blunt response.

You have been forewarned ;)
  • I think (my opinion!) they are ridiculously expensive for a homeschool (even though homeschoolers might have a greater use for them, supplementing the cards where 30-35 children are not present; but then you have to buy the materials too!? And still have the albums!? NO WAY!?)
  • And entirely unnecessary in such large quantities and sets for a classroom where there IS the influence of so many other children. 
  • These curriculum cards are not command cards so much as almost everything is done by the child, with very minimal work with the adult. This is NOT Montessori - this is independent learning - not really the same thing at all. And it is too "curriculum-like" to borrow my primary trainers term (for another Montessori-styled item) - it's not about following the child or meeting the child's needs of the moment. 
  • Yes, there are a couple of yahoo groups that are trying to do something like these sets for homeschool purposes. They (we, actually - since I am in on those groups), continue to hit brick walls because of these conflicting notions of what they are meant to be and how they are meant to be used. So yes, I have looked into these cards extensively. And a homeschool version is likely to be created at some point in the next year or two - but it won't be like what the original project set out to do. 
  • I do NOT recommend purchasing them, for home (expense) OR for school (appropriateness in the environment). If someone gifts them to you, then great - use them as you see fit. But don't spend your own money on them! 
How's that for an honest response? ;) 


  1. Are there any areas outside of geometry in which task cards like these are often used?

    1. Any of the subjects can have such cards - I like the phrase "task cards"! Especially for more of a homeschool setting.

      Within the albums, geography (especially the earth sciences) mentions them, as well as biography.

      Language has them too, but they are in the grammar boxes - and generally relate back to sensorial or geography experiments/demonstrations; although they can be adapted to relate back to grace and courtesy, ways of reading something aloud, etc.

      The unofficial list is that really, you could make them for any of the subjects - to get work going - to fill that "classroom difference" for homeschoolers - it could be something to get some project ideas generated.

      For example, I also developed a set of calligraphy cards specifically for the atrium (see the Keys of the Universe forum ;) ) that could be adapted for home use too.

  2. Updating this post a tad - to say that *writing* command cards is an excellent exercise for a child to develop skills in planning and organizing --- especially when there are many ideas going through his mind at once and he can't go all directions at once!