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Matching is a skill your child begins to develop after age 1 and continues to work on throughout their preschool years. It sets the stage for developing more complex thinking, classifying, and math skills as they grow older. It’s a great way to interact with your child and to get involved with them in meaningful play.
In this post, we cover common matching milestones and simple strategies to promote the development of these skills (along with integrating some motor and speech development of course!). We also make suggestions on some of our favorite matching games on the market.
Is Your Little One New to Matching?
If your child is new to matching it may be a bit confusing deciding where to start. Below are some simple suggestions of starting points as well as progressions you may find helpful.
- Start with objects. Developmentally, children learn to match “like” objects first. Start here, working on pointing out objects that are the “same”.
2. Introduce the concept of a “match”. Once your kiddo is able to locate objects that are the “same”, just change the wording. Now items that are the “same” are a “match”.`
3. Pick a “match” out of a small number of choices. After starting to understand the concept of a match, Chloe is cued to find a match. Of course, don’t forget to celebrate these small and mighty victories with a dance!
4. When ready, progress to pictures. It is very helpful if the pictures are motivating (like these Disney Princesses)! Start with a small number of options and align them neatly in a row.
5. To increase the complexity, add more pictures/selections, or have fun mixing them up to increase the “visual ground” (see picture below).
6. When your little is ready, give memory matching a shot, playing the game as it was intended. Take time to provide lots of hints and cues to draw their attention. It may be helpful to return to objects at this point.
Once your kiddo is really grasping the concept of matching objects and pictures, you can progress to matching pictures to objects as well. Below is an easy activity using barn animals hidden in a toy barn and pictures of animals to match. We used the couch cushions as obstacles to create an added challenge and make matching a little more physically fun.
Here Chloe is moving, talking, and matching. Talk about purposeful play!
We hope you find these simple suggestions valuable! Here are some of the matching games we used in these activities: