15+ Best Matching Games And Activities For Toddlers

✔ Research-backed

Introducing engaging matching games for toddlers to your tiny tots is crucial for improving their matching skills, which is further useful for developing your child’s ability to read and understand various subjects.

Stacking identical blocks, comparing similar toys, arranging books of the same color or size, and performing other similar tasks reflect your toddler’s ability to match things. Moreover, knowing how one object matches another object is practical knowledge they can acquire by observing their surroundings. Thus, make your toddler more curious and help them learn by playing some matching games given in this post.

In This Article

Why Are Matching Games Important For Toddlers?

Matching games help improve a range of concepts and various motor and cognitive skills in toddlers.

  • With the help of matching games, children can learn to differentiate one object from another, which is an important skill for preschoolers.
  • Matching games also help improve language skills, concentration, social skills, hand-eye coordination, and memory skills.
  • These activities involve the usage of basic math skills, such as matching shapes, patterns while helping children learn how to recognize words and letters.
protip_icon Quick fact
These games also hone a child’s problem-solving skills and help build the foundation for learning specific concepts in the future.

How To Teach Matching To A Preschooler?

  • Make your child get into early learning by using practical examples from your day-to-day life. For example, you can show the child two identical socks, puzzles, or matching cards used for activities.
  • Show the child just one of each animal or food card. Help them identify the names of the different objects they see to strengthen their visual recognition.
  • Take out 2 – 4 matching pairs of cards. Ask the child to match these cards that look alike. It is better to start pattern recognition with fewer cards and then increase the number gradually.
  • Practice this skill until they can correctly match cards.

15+ Toddler Matching Games And Activities

1. Leaf matching game

Paste the individual leaves onto different sheets of paper.

Image: Shutterstock

You will need a few colorful leaves in sets of two for educational games like color matching activity. Paste the individual leaves onto different sheets of paper and place them in front of your little one, flipped down. You can also join in this activity and take turns flipping the cards over one by one to find a match. The one who can find the most number of matches wins this memory game.

2. Matching sticks game

This simple yet interactive game keeps little ones occupied. In this matching activity, colored popsicle sticks may be used to form identical patterns. You can also use a printable template as a reference for stick’s shapes, numbers, and colors.

3. Shape puzzles

Trace some basic shapes of animals or other things onto a piece of cardboard and again on a separate colored piece of paper. Cut out these pieces and mix them. Allow your child to pick one piece from the puzzle and find its corresponding piece from the lot. As they play these board games, it can help them improve their observational skills and attention span.

4. Pom pom matching game

To play this memory game, open a bag of pom-poms and sit across your little one. Then take turns to find matches of pom-poms of the same size and shape. You can also make a line with masking tape to place the pom poms in a row. This is a great idea for the process of learning through play.

5. Halloween matching game

To prepare for this interesting toddler-friendly card game, cut out a few Halloween pictures and shapes in duplicates. Glue one set of duplicates onto white cardboard and keep the other set for the children. Let them match the loose set using the ones stuck to the cardboard as a reference.

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You may also try Halloween printables or online Halloween matching games.

6. Mitten matching activity

Get a mitten template and cut out a few paper mittens.

Image: IStock

For this adorable game, you will need a few sheets of colored and patterned paper, small plastic clothespins, and a mitten template. Select bright and eye-catching colors and patterns of sheets and cut out a few paper mittens from them in sets of two. Now mix all the pieces up and hand them over to your little one to match. They can use the clothespins to hold the matched pair together.

7. Touch and match

For this stimulating age-appropriate activity, you will need a few cardboard pieces, different types of textured papers (wallpaper scraps, felt scraps, cotton pads, bubble wraps, etc.), and scissors. First, cut out cardboard pieces of your preferred size and texture. These pieces must be smaller than the cardboard pieces. Next, make memory cards with each of the textures. Spread the cards on the floor and let your children explore them freely. Later, let them match the cards having the same texture. This activity can help boost memory skills in children.

8. Jar lid letter matching

You would need some foam letter stickers and a few jar lids for this wonderful game. Peel and stick letters into the insides of the jar lids. You can do lower case and uppercase letters where your little one would have to find the corresponding pieces (if given an uppercase letter, they have to find the lower case of that corresponding letter and vice versa). It is better to keep the lids faced down while searching for the match they are looking for. This would also add an element of surprise.

9. Pattern matching

This is a fun game for toddlers, with great cognitive benefits. You will need some foam circles, permanent markers, and a pair of scissors. Draw some patterns on the circles and cut them in half. Place one half of the set out and the other half as a pile beside them from where they can search for the matches.

10. Clothespin color match

Let your child try and match the clothespin with the matching color.

Image: IStock

This is a cooperative game. Take out your collection of colorful clothespins, get some markers, and find any piece of cardboard or paper. Color some spots with markers corresponding to the color of the clothespins on the edge of the cardboard or the paper. You can customize the cardboard in any way you like. Let your child try and match the clothespin with the matching color mentioned on the board. This is the perfect game for you to discuss the concepts of primary and secondary colors.

11. Matching sensory activity

Bury a few objects in a box filled with rice, sand, or any other base of your choice. You can select objects like toys of various shapes and sizes but in sets of two. Keep one set beside the box as a reference to what they are searching for in the box. Now, let the child start hunting for toys identical to the one outside.

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Coin matching and math matching help improve your child’s memory and mathematical skills.

12. Touch and feel the bag

Take an opaque bag and place a few objects inside it (in pairs). Let your little one rustle through the bag and find the pairs by just feeling their shape and using their intuition.

13. Sticky partners

Use a set of stickers available in multiples for this colorful game. Take one of each kind and stick it to a cupboard door or wall. Let your child stick the matching stickers beside the ones you have placed. You can also invite your child’s friends and add 2-4 players for this game. It can be an interesting idea for a little playdate.

14. Matching sound jars

Fill some opaque jars with various items such as rice, cereals, beans, and candies. Mix them well and ask your child to shake them. They can use their memory skills to match the jars that produce identical sounds.

15. Pack away

Ask your child to sort all identical blocks.

Image: IStock

You can conduct this simple game while sorting out your little one’s toys and belongings. Instead of throwing all the blocks together into the container in a haphazard manner, ask your child to help you sort all the identical blocks according to their colors and shapes to place them together.

16. Matching card game

Matching card games are an excellent way to keep your toddlers engaged. Apart from entertaining your children, these games help them learn about shapes and sizes. Ask your toddlers to flip cards and find pairs that look the same. In the beginning, make it easy by flipping cards until you find a match. Put those matching cards next to each other and keep the rest face down and play again. Also, instruct your child to remember where the cards are. As your toddler gets used to the game, make it a bit harder by flipping only two cards at a time and keep going till they find a pair.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the ideal duration for a matching game?

There is no set duration for how long a child can play a matching game. Some children tire after playing for a few minutes, while some can go on for hours if they are interested in the game.

2. Are there any precautions to take while playing matching games with toddlers?

Matching games is a mostly safe game. However, ensure that the game props used do not become choking hazards. Also, ensure the child wears gloves and aprons based on the raw materials they will handle.

3. Can matching games be played outdoors or only indoors?

Matching games can be played anywhere and anytime as long as the child is willing to play.

4. How can parents make matching games more engaging and interesting for toddlers?

Parents can offer a prize each time their child gets the matching task right or completes a set of puzzles. The incentive will encourage them to try harder and develop an interest in the game.

5. Is it necessary to buy matching games or can they be made at home?

Matching games can be made at home with regular items found around at home.

Jackie Currie, a childcare provider and daycare owner, explains how she creates matching games with items available around the house. She says, “Gather up some random items from around the house or playroom and lay them all out on a large piece of paper. When making a shape-match activity for very young toddlers, I trace simple shapes like cookie cutters, play food, puzzle pieces, wooden blocks and plastic cutlery. For preschoolers, I search my kitchen drawers and toy room for more unusually shaped items – ones that they’ll really have to think about before making the match (i).”

It is essential for you to introduce your children to a variety of games and activities, as these are an important part of childhood learning. So, as your baby grows, introducing them to these matching games for toddlers can be a great idea. These games will improve their language skills, memory, and math skills. To teach them matching, you can use animal or food cards. You may also plan simple activities such as shape puzzles and pattern matching. Furthermore, get innovative and use these activities during family nights to create a wholesome learning experience for your child.

Infographic: How Else Can Toddlers Benefit From Matching Games

Matching games can aid learning in toddlers in a fun and exciting way. You can use your creativity while playing such games and help your little one achieve milestones faster. Check out this infographic to know what added benefits these games can have. Also, find some more game ideas.

more about matching games for toddlers (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Matching games such as shape puzzles and mitten matching activities improve observation, recognition, and mathematical skills.
  • Start small and increase the number of pieces as your child gains expertise.
  • You may use household items such as clothespins, jar lids, pom poms, or leaves for matching games.
matching games for toddlers_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Toddlers love colors! Let your toddler have fun learning with this exciting color matching game. Surprise them with toys and hugs as they match the colors and learn along the way!

Personal Experience: Source


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Theresa Bertuzzi
Theresa BertuzziEarly childhood educator
Theresa Bertuzzi is the chief program development officer and co-founder of Tiny Hoppers, an early learning center and daycare provider located all across Canada. Theresa is a certified and experienced primary school teacher; she did her graduation in Child Studies from Carleton University, bachelors in Education from University of Ottawa and another bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Algonquin College.

Read full bio of Theresa Bertuzzi