Matching Games and Activities

Some will depend on reinforcing one concept – colour matching, size grading, shape matching, colour sorting – and others will combine several factors. Contrary to what most adults think, the apparently simpler games involving just one concept, particularly size grading, can be more difficult to do than those which appear more complicated yet offer more cues and clues.

These types of matching game may be produced in large plastic or wood pieces or the same ideas can be carried out as card games, such as dominoes, matching pairs, matching sets, or as Lotto boards and cards. The sets one can buy are not usually as well thought out or as much fun as they need to be for under-fives particularly those produced in card. Even if the degree of skill necessary is carefully matched to the attractiveness and size of the cards, the card is often of too poor quality for the use they will receive. They are rarely produced in a simple enough form or in a graded series to ensure that very young children can achieve some degree of completion of a set. It is in these early stages that the satisfaction of finishing is so important. It provides the motivation to try the next stage.

Anyone who is neat-fingered, who has a supply of good quality pre-cut card or can buy board and borrow a guillotine, who has the patience to collect suitable picture and motif material, and who knows enough about the various skills involved and the abilities of young children can make better and cheaper sets than can be bought. Most teachers of young children are very good at this – they have to be. Quite often an adult is better able to ‘use’ material with young children if she has made it herself and any special interests of the children can be included so that they are more likely to be attracted by such games. The one drawback can be that mishandling or even legitimate wear and tear can be irritating to an adult who remembers how long it took to design and make the set. Investing in a huge roll of transparent self-adhesive film to cover all the cards makes them last longer and, of course, they look better. The other way to reduce very natural resentment is to reduce the amount of donkey work that is in-volved. Pre-cut card and a lot of help are a good start. The new self-adhesive shapes and dots, ready-gummed shapes and the sets of small pictures produced by some educational suppliers also save time although not all of the latter are as good or as varied as one might wish.