Matching and memory games are super fun, and help greatly in the cognitive development of children. Matching games bought from the store can be fun for a while, but making one with your child makes play time more special. It is a good way to spend quality time together during long hours indoors, and is a great learning experience for children. Whether it is a baby matching game, or one for your preschooler, we have some great do-it-yourself ideas for you.
Benefits of Playing Matching Games
Matching games have numerous advantages for your child in terms of cognitive development and memory, some of which are:
- Visual discrimination is essential for identifying the difference between objects, symbols, and alphabets is a trait that is strengthened with matching games. If children are able to learn to associate outlines with the right objects, they will be able to discern alphabets and matching sounds, and learn language skills well. This ability to connect print with object is foundational for reading skills in preschool.
- Matching games that involves memorizing items greatly help in building working memory in children. Working memory is the short term memory that is essential for math, language, and comprehension skills for children. The development of working memory is critical for learning new information, following instructions, and excellence in academic performance. Early reading and comprehension skills in children are linked to larger working memory capacities.
- Matching and memory games also help develop a range of cognitive functions, such as focus, concentration, attention, and critical thinking. With critical thinking, children can learn to make rational and informed decisions, and even come up with new ways of solving problems. In the long run, the developed cognitive functions enhance intellectual capacities, which allow them greater success in college and career.
- With increased visual discrimination and working memory, children also develop spatial reasoning skills. They develop a good understanding of dimensions, volumes, shapes, and their relation, which will ultimately boost their mathematical skills. Children who excel in math and science are more likely to pursue STEM fields such as engineering and architecture.
Matching Game Ideas for Children
Here are three do-it-yourself matching games that you can make with common materials and items available in the house.
1. ‘Match the Shapes’ Matching Game
‘Match the shapes’ matching game is one of the best matching games for toddlers out there. It will help teach them what every item is, their names, and their shapes. Since understanding the outlines of an item is a complicated cognitive process, it will help them develop imagination. You can start the game with simple topics such as shapes, letters, and simple blocks, to help them grasp the idea behind the game before moving to complicated items.
Things You Need
- Large sheets of thick colored paper or poster board
- Building blocks, shapes, solid alphabets, toys
- Bowl for shapes
How to Make & Play
- You will need the outlines of shapes you want to use in the game. The shapes can either be downloaded as a template from the internet, or be hand-drawn at home. If there are more children playing the game, printing the shapes out is a good idea.
- If you are making the game for one child, then gather the shapes, and arrange them evenly over the large cardboard sheet. Using the marker, draw the outline of each shape on the cardboard.
- Once your shape board is ready, drop all the shapes or items for the game into the bowl.
- Start the timer, and have your child reach into the bowl to find a matching shape. If this is his first time, it will take a while before he gets the hang of it.
- Set the time limit to a minute, within which your child will have to find the object and place it on the board, or show you which outline matches it.
- The goal of the game is to see how fast your child can find and arrange shapes. If you have more than one child playing the game, have multiple rounds of finding the shapes. The one who does it in the shortest time wins.
2. ‘The Cup Says’ Matching Game
Doing what is written in the cup is a classic game enjoyed by adults, and a matching game for 3-year-olds that you can play at their birthday parties or other gatherings. Since the game requires quite a bit of observational and memory skills, you can limit the number of players to three or four when playing with young kids. Playing this game regularly helps build working memory in children, and develops cognitive skills in the future.
Things You Need
- Different colored plastic drinking cups
- Clip art or magazine images
How to Make & Play
- To prepare the game, find clip art or images from magazines that depict actions such as raising a hand, running, jumping, laughing, or other such actions. Cut the images out with a pair of scissors.
- Glue or tape the images to the inside bottom of the cups securely.
- Arrange the cups in a series, or as a grid. Have one player start the game by picking up a number of cups, and memorize and enact what is shown in the pictures in the right sequence.
- To make it a bit more challenging, have the first player memorize the actions in four or five cups, and act them out. If the players are younger children, have them enact only two or three cups.
- If the player gets all the actions right in the right sequence, they get a point. If they make a mistake, they lose points. The player with the most points wins.
- A more fun variant of this game is to have the other kids memorize what the kids before them enacted, and repeat that before picking a cup of their own. This can be done if each kid picks up only one or two cups and enacts the pictures.
3. Memory Matching Game
If you’re looking for kindergarten matching games or memory games for older children for a party or a vacation, then this one is fun and challenging. This memory matching game involves quickly memorizing items on a plate, and going into the playroom to find the same by recalling them. The game is excelling for building working memory in children, and is a fun activity for any get-together.
Things You Need
- An assortment of items that can be sourced in multiples, such as spoons, bands, buttons, socks, etc.
- Bowls or plates for item collection
- Playroom with hidden items
How to Make & Play
- The game starts with one person, the ‘collector’, entering the playroom to gather a collection of items in his plate. You can either have the items placed in the room such that they can be easily found, or disperse or even hide them throughout, to make the game more challenging. Every found item on the collector’s plate should have more than one matching item enough to accommodate all the players.
- The collector comes into the room where the players are waiting and uncovers his plate and starts a timer set for one minute. The players have this minute to memorize all the items that are on the collector’s plate. The plate is covered after a minute.
- Each player picks a plate of their own, and goes into the playroom to find the items they can recollect from memory. You can give them three minutes in total to find as many items as they can remember, and fill up the plate.
- The player who returns with the most number of correct items wins the round, and becomes the collector for the next round.
- Assign a point for every correct item, and a negative point for every wrong item.
Matching games for children are a fun way to spend their play time, and have a good time with family and friends. They help in the development of the brain’s working memory, language, and reasoning skills. And, playing games with increasing difficulty as children get older is the key to long term cognitive development!