I've had so much fun introducing Otto to matching activities I wanted to share them with you. At around 18 months Otto started object to object matching. Now a month or so later he is using object to card matching. This is a fun way to build vocabulary, concentration as well as visual discrimination and cognitive development. Here are a few of my tips for starting object to card matching at home.
- If you have a printer it is easy to make your own cards at home. For most cards, I have used product images found online. I have printed the image onto photo paper and then trimmed the card. The standard photo paper (6x4 inches) is a good size for me and it saves me a lot of time in not cutting cards.
- I recommend using items the child is already familiar with, or that are found around the home as these are relevant to the young child. If you have used language baskets previously, you can use the same objects just make some matching cards. We can also use objects around a theme the child may already have shown an interest in.
- Use a white background to start with, later we can use images with habitats or backgrounds. This isolates the image making it clear to the young child.
- Try to make the images around the same size as the objects. This will make it easier for the child to match the right object.
- At this age/stage there is no need for names, print, writing or labels, they are a distraction and are unnecessary.
- Don't laminate unless you have to, card is compostable and recyclable, laminate lives forever, try printing on card or sticking the images onto heavy cardstock if you need to strengthen them.
- You may need to present the matching activity a few times for the child to get it. If you find the child isn't ready, put it away and wait a couple of weeks.
- At the start, I will do the activity with the child, as pictured I have put the cards on the table and Otto has done the matching. Now that he is familiar with the work he will choose the activity from the shelf, lay the cards out, do the activity and will sometimes, put the cards and objects back in the basket/tray and put them back on the shelf. Learning the whole process including packing up and putting away takes time, good role modelling and consistency.
Our current insect cards. I also like to trim the corners, it makes them look finished and there are no sharp corners to scratch or harm the child. I use a little corner trimmer like this.
Transport and construction are popular themes.
This is the matching activity that Otto uses the most. I love it when I see him doing it independently. Most of the time he doesn't put it away, I don't worry about it too much. I may ask him to help me pack up if he's near otherwise I'll just pack it up and put it back on the shelves.
Fruit and/or vegetables can work well for first matching activities. It is nice to use real things when you can, especially at this early stage. A real orange is better than a model orange and this is often doable at home where it may not be in the classroom.
I've found the more the child does this work, the more they want to do it. At 19 months we have two matching activities on our shelves (insects and vehicles) each with four objects/cards, but I can see soon we will move to six objects/cards.
If you can't make your own matching object card sets there are a few places online to order them. If you are in Australia, Montessori Australia has the largest collection I've seen (Animals, Life Cycles, Fruits, Sporting Equipment, Instruments and more). Maitri Learning (in the US) has a large number of cards which can be used as language cards, later for matching card to card, or you can use the images from three part cards and save the other parts for when the child is older and find similar objects. There are a few sets available on Etsy, I love Miss Rhonda's readers matching rocks, fossils and shells for older children. Schleich animals and Toobs are popular objects but we can also think outside the box, your child may already have a few small items that can be used, we love the small vehicles from Siku.