Matching objects to their corresponding pictures is a very common early childhood activity. Although object-to-picture matching is widely accepted as an important basic skill, you may still be wondering what all the fuss is about! Here is a summary of some of the benefits of object-picture matching activities for your little one.
Language and Cognition
Matching an object to a picture requires the understanding of the picture as a symbol, or representation, of the actual object. The ability to understand symbolic representation is a crucial prerequisite to learning and using language!
Object-to-picture matching is a great way to build vocabulary in young children. When the pictures and objects don’t match exactly, children have to use their knowledge of the distinctive features and/or function of the object in order to match them correctly. For instance, it may be fairly simple for a child to match a small blue bowl to a picture of the exact same bowl, but if the bowl in the picture is large and red, the child will have to use reasoning (i.e. both items have the same basic shape and the same function) to realize that the object and picture go together. Recognizing distinctive features and functions of objects helps grow category knowledge, in turn creating deeper understanding of vocabulary concepts.
When matching objects to pictures, your child is practicing visual discrimination skills, becoming familiar with one-dimensional print, and learning to connect real objects to print. These are important pre-reading skills.
Matching objects to pictures also encourages one-to-one correspondence, which is a foundational math skill.
Tips for planning object-to-picture matching activities:
When planning object-to-picture matching activities, you can make them easier by finding pictures and objects that look very similar (i.e. a small blue bowl to a picture of a small blue bowl) or increase the difficulty by making the objects more diverse (i.e. small blue bowl to large red bowl). Alternatively, you can up the ante by requiring the child to match several objects that are very similar except for one or two minor details, such as a set of plastic cows with different markings or bears of different sizes. This version of the activity requires more attention to minor detail.
Start by introducing only a few object pairs at a time and then slowly increase the number of options you have out as the child gets more proficient with matching.
If you are trying to find pictures to match small manipulatives or toys that you own, you can often check retailers’ websites and pull exact photos or drawings of the items off the site. Just be sure not to use them beyond working with your own child (don’t distribute them or charge money for them) so you don’t get in trouble for copyright violation!
I hope this information inspires you to try some object-to-picture matching activities with your own little ones! The pictures in this article are from our Goodnight Moon Vocabulary Activity– click on the text link to see other ways we used the picture symbols.