The Scripps National Spelling Bee receives a small commission from the purchase of any products or services through an affiliate link to the retailer's website.

Best Matching Games

Games can do far more than simply help pass the time. They can be incredibly useful tools for helping young children develop various skills. With matching games, children work to identify and put together similar items. There are many different ways matching games can boost kids’ cognitive abilities, but because the games are fun, kids will never realize they’re learning. The matching games we’ve chosen as our top picks help with vocabulary, color, pattern and number recognition and memory skills.

A classic option with a slight twist, the Wonder Forge PJ Masks Matching Game encourages children to turn over pairs of tiles to find a match. The 72 tiles, which are 2 inches by 2 inches in size, are perfect for little hands. Each features an illustration of favorite characters from the popular kids’ TV show. While basic play includes matching two identical tiles, it is easy to customize this game for younger players. The tiles feature different colors for various characters, which makes it great for helping with color recognition as well. This option is recommended for children ages 3 to 4.

The cards used in the eeBoo Life on Earth Memory Matching Game are beautifully rendered, with lush colors and a great amount of detail. Plus, the benefits of this matching game go beyond boosting kids’ memory skills. With the many different plant and animal designs on the cards, parents have an entry point for teaching little ones new vocabulary words and helping them build an interest in the natural world. This game is recommended for children ages 6 and up.

Slapzi is a matching game with a twist. Because players match picture cards with “clue” cards, this game provides opportunities for children to work on their critical thinking skills. The descriptions written on the cards, along with the verbal clues, are also a great way to help build early to intermediate reading comprehension. The game includes 120 picture cards along with 65 clue cards and instructions for seven additional games to play with these cards, so even children with shorter attention spans won’t become bored. This option is recommended for children ages 3 and up.

With Quick Cups, players race against the clock and each other to assemble their colored cups in the correct order as determined by the illustrations on the included picture cards. Whether the card shows a spaceship or a birthday cake, each drawing features different colors that need to be matched up as players stack cups. Having to figure out the right order of colors promotes both critical thinking and pattern recognition skills. This game is recommended for children ages 6 to 8.

The VATOS magnetic matching game offers a fun new twist on matching. Kids are encouraged to organize magnetic rings in the correct order based on the provided cards. In addition to being great for building colo- matching skills, this game helps promote an early love of the sciences. Kids will be fascinated by the magnetic power of the rings, wondering what makes them stick together or easily come apart. This option is recommended for kids ages 3 and up.

Expert Commentary

“These go-to memory games are straight-forward but fun and easy enough for kids to play in a variety of environments. I like to have a box of these handy with me wherever I go with my children, whether it’s a long car ride or some down time during the afternoon. These games help children attune their attention to detail and improve their spatial memory skills.”

Our Expert Consultant

Emily Watts

Emily Watts is a mother of three (she has two adopted children and one foster child). She also is a licensed teacher with experience educating children in complex life situations. Emily has over seven years of experience in alternative education. She is passionate about children and specializes in helping those who may need a little extra attention or special care.