Parenting

3 Fun Matching Games to Play With Your Kids

For my birthday, my husband got me a laminator. No, wait, before you roll your eyes and write him off as the kind of guy who would give his wife, like, a vacuum cleaner or something as a gift (“But you’re always vacuuming! I thought you would love it.” He’d never do that) let me hasten to add that I asked for the laminator. In fact, it was the thing I was most excited about getting for my birthday. It’s the teacher in me. Or . . . something.

Anyway, if you give your wife a laminator, she’s going to want something to laminate. And, of course (since I’d been waiting and waiting for my laminator to arrive), I had just the thing. Here it is:

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That’s the teacher in me. But it got me to thinking about other fun games that children can play who are starting to recognize numbers, colors, shapes, barnyard animals, whatever. And since it amused me to think of games like that, I thought I’d share them (in case coming up with that kind of thing doesn’t sound amusing to you). However, before you read on, a disclaimer:

Disclaimer:  If your child (be he 5 or 25, well okay not 25 but you get the idea) is not yet interested in learning his letters, numbers, what a cow says, what a horse looks like, etc., that’s okay! These games are not meant to teach your child to recognize these things. He will. In his own time, in his own way. Please, please, please, do not frantically chase after your kid waving your own version of  Bingo in his face and saying, in a voice tinged with panic, “Can you find the F? The F!! No, no, the F!” F that. But if he’s starting to be interested in letters, or colors, or shapes, or numbers, or trucks, or dinosaurs, these games might be a fun way to spend your time.  Okay? Promise? Now read on.

1. Bingo

So, you actually don’t need a laminator for this game. Just draw a grid on a piece of paper and write/draw some things your child will recognize (operative word here: will. Not things you wish he recognized but doesn’t. Not things the kid down the street who’s his age recognizes. Things he actually recognizes. Otherwise this game is no fun). You could do letters, numbers, simple words, shapes, colors, or, if he doesn’t recognize those things yet, you could do pictures of animals, or everyday objects that he does recognize. Then get something for the chips. I laminated a piece of construction paper and cut out squares. But you could use coins (as long as you’re sure he won’t try to eat them), or blocks, or pieces of uncooked pasta. Whatever. Then you just call out the things you see on the board. He puts a chip on what you call and yells “Bingo!” when the whole board is full. (For some reason my son refused to yell Bingo, but would yell “Hippopotamus!” instead. Feel free to try this too.)

2. Color Sort

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There are lots of variations to this game, but basically the idea is for your child to identify objects of different colors in your home. So, designate spots in the room for colors that he knows (again, that he knows). Tape a piece of paper in that spot that has that color on it (either a piece of, for example, blue construction paper, or any kind of paper with a blue shape on it that you draw with marker or crayon). Then have him locate things in the room that are those colors and place them in the designated spot. So, for example, the rubber duckie goes in the yellow area, the blue Lego goes in the blue area, the Elmo doll goes in the red area, etc. If this seems too abstract for your child, dump a bunch of colored blocks (Mega Blocks, Duplos, Whatever blocks you have) out in the middle of the floor and have him sort those into colors. If this turns into him building with the blocks instead of sorting them by color, that’s totally okay. Remember, this is meant to be fun.

3. Seek and Find Gymnastics

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Get a big piece of paper (as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I have a big roll of butcher paper because I used to be a teacher and old habits die hard, but you can just tape a lot of pieces of construction paper together). Draw a bunch of things your child will recognize on it. Then ask him to do different things to get to get to each picture. For example, you could say, “Stand on the picture of a horse!” Or you could say, “Put your fingers on the square!” Or, “Hop up and down on the letter J!” If you want to make it even trickier (or I should say, if your child wants you to make it even tricker) you could do two things at once. So, for example, you could draw a truck inside a square and say something like, “Put your knee on the picture inside a square!” And then when he gets there you could ask him what the picture is of. There are tons of variations for this game, but I’m sure you get the idea. Customize it in whatever way makes the most sense for what your child is interested in.

If all this sounds like too much work, forget I said anything. But if these games seem like they might be fun for your child and diverting for you, give them a try. Ready? Set. Go!