Toddler Play: Animal Matching

Toddler Play: Animal Matching

It’s been a while since I posted about our play but today I wanted to share one of our current favourite activities that we tend to do a couple of times a week and it’s one that not only does Florence really enjoy, but it’s a great opportunity for learning too!

Florence knew animal sounds before she had words and it’s safe to say she is an animal lover through and through. I came up with this game to help her match the sounds she already knew with the animal that made them and then help her make the connection between a toy animal and a photograph of the same real life animal. I also hoped it would help build her vocabulary a little more.

It’s a super simple game to set up and is perfect for playing at the breakfast table or when you need to fill 10 minutes while tea is cooking.

Lay out your animal photo cards (we use the ones from this Baby’s First Animals pram Book from M&S) in a line or grid in front of your little one. To start with, a line might be better. Then place a selection of toy animals that can be found on the cards you’ve laid out in a basket. I’ve used a mix of Happy Land, Lanka Kade & Lego Animals as they’re just what we have here, but any would be fine!

One by one, make your way through the animal cards, asking your little one to find the matching toy.

To start with you may want to show them how to do it, reaching for each toy and each card and repeating the animal’s name as you match them together. Once matched you could also remind her of the sound each animal makes – ‘What does the cow say?’, ‘The cow says Moo!’.

Once you’ve shown her how to play a couple of times (it may take a few repetitions for her to grasp the idea, just take your tots lead), you can encourage her to match them up herself. Talk your child through each animal and get her to match them with the toys.

For example, Point to the card with the Zebra and ask her ‘Can you find a Zebra in the box?’ Encourage her to search through the box and place the corresponding toy on the card.

If she’s finding it a bit tricky to find the right animals in the box, you could line them up in front of her instead to make them a bit more accessible.

Since introducing this game Florence has come on leaps and bounds when it comes to matching the animals and does them without hesitation now. When it comes to learning their names she knows them and points at them when you ask her and can confidently say horse, cow, dog, cat and pig and makes a good attempt at trickier ones like elephant and giraffe. With a bit more practice I know we will see her animal vocabulary grow and grow.

I hope you and your little one enjoy this animal matching game as much as we do! Let me know in the comments below how you get on if you try this at home, I’d love to know how you get on.

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