Matching is an essential skill for children to develop as it supports cognitive development - visual memory, short term memory and pattern recognition. Matching also helps develop focus and concentration.
The foundation of matching develops early. Did you know that as early as 6 months, your baby matches a particular tone with a person and can recognise their voice?
Here is the progression of matching in young children and activities to support them
Color matching 14+
While a 14 month old cannot name colors yet, they can start to identify how some colors are the same and some are different. You can use these cards from level 8 Montessori Box or you can use clothes or other toys u have lying around.
Size matching 15+
Place four balls in front of your child - 2 large and 2 small - ensure they are very different in size. You can ask your child to put the two large balls together. If the difference is obvious, your child will be able to do this basic matching activity.
2D/ 3D matching 19+
By 19 months, your child will be able to match animal figurines to picture cards. Use the cards from the level 9 montessori box - start by lining up 4 or 5 cards and place a basket of the matching animal figurines. As your child pulls out an animal, allow them to name, touch and explore it before putting it on the match card.
Fruit/ vegetable matching 19+
This is a great opportunity to show your child how the inside of fruit looks different from the outside.
Start by having them match the full fruit or vegetable to its 2D image
Around 24 months you can match the inside of the fruit/ vegetable to the image of the outside.
It’s a great way to incorporate sensory play into matching work
Sound matching 21+
Line up animal figurines from level 9 montessori box in front of your toddler. Make an animal sound and ask your child to pick up that animal. Play this game several times over a few weeks before you can tell your toddler, “It’s your turn” They make the sound and you pick the matching animal.
Shadow matching 21+
Shadow matching is a more abstract concept and once your child has enough exposure to matching, they will soon master this skill too.
You can take this further by looking at shadows when you go outside. Play silly games like trying to catch each other’s shadows or simply use your hands to make animal shadows on the wall.
Odd one out 21+
Place three animal figurines or vehicles in a line - two identical and one different. For example two brown horses and one elephant or two yellow buses and one red. Sometimes without any instructions, your child may pick up the two which are identical. If they don’t, ask them which one is different.
Memory game 21+
Take out four cards (2 matching pairs) and place them face down in front of your toddler. You can use the vehicle matching cards from level 10. Flip a card over and ask your toddler which of the other three might be the same as the one flipped over. If they get lucky in the first try, celebrate it. If not, flip it back and have them try again. Depending on the readiness of your child you can make it into three sets and then slowly increase the number.
Take it outside 21+
As you go on a walk, pay attention to sounds you may hear. Stop and ask your child to name the animal or vehicle making the sound i.e fire truck, bird etc.
Matching Animal Skin
2 years + Print some animal cards and a close up of their skin. Show them how to do the activity and with time they will learn to notice patterns on the animal’s body to find the matching skin.