Somewhere around 30 months, your child may be able to match identical or similar pictures of objects. You can practice matching with memory games, with your own photos, or with repeating images in books.
Here are a few fun ways to practice matching with memory games:
Playing “memory” with the cards face down is a complex challenge your child most likely won’t be ready for yet, but you can use parts of the game to introduce matching now.
- Using a memory game like The Things That Go, select two images that are exactly the same and a third that’s obviously different. Set the three images in front of your child and encourage your child to pick the two that are the same. You can ask them about their thought process: “how did you know these two trucks are the same?” Even if they’re not able to answer, hearing this question and thinking about a response is great practice for early reasoning skills.
- Give your child two matched pairs (like two identical fire trucks and two identical school buses) and see if they’ll match the cards without any instructions at all. Sometimes, children will naturally match items they recognize as identical. If they don’t, try asking, “can you find two that are exactly the same?” Once they do, ask the question again of the remaining pair.
- If you do want to try the memory game, consider starting with just two or three pairs and narrating when it’s your turn: “Oh, I turned over an airplane, and I remember seeing another airplane over in this corner”.
- This is also a great opportunity to practice taking turns: show how to take two matching cards, put them together, and put them to the side—then let your child have a turn doing the same.
Here are a few fun ways to practice matching in everyday life:
- When you’re outdoors, help your child collect leaves that match (in size, color, pattern, etc), or match the size of different rocks.
- When you hear the sound of an animal or a vehicle, ask your child if they can tell you what’s making it: “that sounds like an animal is barking; which animal does that?” or “that’s a really loud noise telling other cars to get out of the way; which vehicle makes a sound like that?”
- Another skill that often shows up around this age is matching body parts to corresponding ones on a doll. Ask your child to point first to their own head, then to the doll’s head; as your child begins to learn smaller and more specific body parts like wrist and elbow, you can try those on the doll as well.
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