This simplified version of the classic game of “match” (or memory) is a fun activity for young toddlers that will help to develop vocabulary and increase concentration.Do your little ones love playing board games and card games as much as mine? Thankfully, we’re past the stage where Little Man wanted to play Candy Land 15 times a day (no joke). We’ve introduced some much needed variety into our game-playing repertoire, but the fact remains that my boys love playing games.
Little Brother loves to get in on the gaming action, too, but most of the games are too complex for him to play on his own. Still, I want him to be able to participate, so we adapt. Sometimes he plays on my team, sometimes he throws extra dice across the room and chases them down, and sometimes we modify the games to make them more toddler-friendly.
Match is one of the games we’ve simplified successfully.
I actually first came up with this simplified version of match about a year or so ago, when I started playing it with Little Man. When he had just turned three, it was too tricky for him to keep track of all the face down cards and successfully find matches. So we came up with the following variation to play instead. Now I use it with Little Brother (2), and he loves it.
Simplified Matching Game for Toddlers
What you need:
We have a a couple of cheap match game sets I got from The Dollar Store that my boys love, but you can also download and print a set for free. (See below for links to free printable match games I love.)
How to play:
- Take a regular match or memory game, and separate out just 6-8 matches from the game (you can increase the number as your child’s age and attention span increase).
- Separate the deck so that you have one half of each match face UP on the table (or floor).
- Now, shuffle the other half of each match (your remaining 6-8 cards) and place them in a stack face DOWN.
- Have your toddler flip over a card from the stack, and find its match from the face up cards on the table. Pick up the match and place it beside you, or let your child hold it (Lesson learned: don’t get into a power struggle with a two-year-old who wants to hold his cards!)
- Continue this until your toddler has found all the matches.
This game is probably best for 2-3 year olds, but older or younger kids may enjoy it, too. Little Man enjoyed playing this version with Little Brother, even though he has “graduated” to a more traditional version of match now.
I love using this game as a way to sneak in vocabulary and pronunciation practice for late talkers, as we talk about the pictures on the cards. Try to say the words on the cards as many times as possible and ask you child to identify the picture on their cards, too.
“What card did you turn over?…A car?…Great! Where is the other car? You found the car!” In that one small interaction, my child saw a picture of the word car, heard it three times, and had an opportunity to say the word himself at least once.
Playing a simple game like this for just a few minutes a day can have a real impact on your child’s vocabulary (and reading skills for older kids if the cards have the words written on them as well, as ours do).
Want to download your own match game to play with your toddler?
I love this packet from Mama’s Learning Corner.
Or, try this fall version.
What are your favorite ways to simplify games to play with young children?
I regularly link up here.