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Object-to-Picture Matching for Montessori Toddlers

When I think about object-to-picture matching, It feels like one of the most quintessential Montessori materials. It's just use so frequently that I immediately think "Montessori" when I see it. 

It's also one of those activities that can keep a wide range of children happy. There are times when Henry at 4/5-years-old has enjoyed matching pictures and objects. I'm just focusing on toddlers here, though. 

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Like object-to-object matching, object-to-picture matching has some very important benefits for toddlers. One, it again helps with vocabulary, moving from left-to-right and providing order. However, object-to-picture matching also helps toddlers to explore abstraction. 

In other words, it helps toddlers start to make the connection that what they hold in their hand is the same as what they see on the picture. The picture of an apple is an apple, and the apple they are holding is an apple. This sort of abstract thinking is essential for reading. And, this work easily helps toddlers make those connections.

Object-to-picture matching does not have to be difficult to set up! Nora (21-month-old) is just starting to show an interest in this type of work. For this post, I set up a few examples, although I typically would only have one of this work out at a time. In an ideal world, this work would include objects and matching cards. The cards would be the exact same as the objects (down to the size). This is extremely difficult to find so might not be possible in a home setting. So, I use what I have access to.

In my case, I make a lot of my own cards by taking pictures of the objects. Or, sometimes, I use premade flashcards. I try to keep them to just the picture, and no words, but that's not always possible either.

For Nora, I made three simple trays. The first was matching Schleich farm animals to an over sized set of farm flashcards. These flashcards are some of my favorite but sadly they don't make them any more. 

Next, was matching fresh fruit to another set of flashcards {from an Etsy shop that closed.} These had words, but the pictures are beautiful and real. 

Finally I made a set of cards to match birds with their pictures. Those beautiful cards are a printable from my good friend Amy at Midwest Montessori

There are so many possibilities when it comes to object-to-picture matching. Again, I completely recommend following your child's interests. Does you child like cars? Then use cars! For Nora, its animals, so we are heavy on animals. Other ideas would include: 

Remember that this work is again about exploration, not perfection. The focus should always be on the process and not the product. If you notice, Nora did not match very many correctly from the fruit or farm trays. She really liked the bird work which will stay on her shelves for now! I didn't correct her, or lead her exploration. I set her free and let her come up with how she would use! 

Next up in the matching series -- Picture-to-Picture matching! If you missed the first part of this series, see it here: Object-to-Object Matching.

Does your child enjoy object-to-picture matching? Have you noticed this is an activity that they enjoy for a long time?  

If you liked this post, don't miss: Zoology Sensory Bottles for Montessori Babies


Anonymous said…
Such a favourite activity at my house too! Started around 20 months and at 3 years my daughter still loves these! I used two different types of cards. The first set was identical, such as what you have with the birds, and the second set was similar, so what you have with the farm animals. It's difficult to actually get identical so I only have a few of these but the child is typically more successful with these at first and are a great stepping stone in the process of abstraction. It's really awesome to see the child go from matching the green car to the identical green car picture, and then later match the green car to a similar car picture such as a blue car. This leads to the understanding that cars can be many colours, shapes, etc. but they are still a car.
Unknown said…
I would love to try this when our baby gets 2-3 years old. This is such fun activity and of course a great way to develop their skills.

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