Here is an 8-minute video of Matthew working on matching objects to pictures and matching like pictures with his therapists.
I think it was in the summer last year when we started introducing Matthew to the concept of matching. I learned from his therapists that kids usually learn to match like objects first before matching objects to pictures and finally matching like pictures. It made sense that the learning starts out with something tangible or concrete before moving on to the abstract, i.e. pictures.
Matching Like Objects
We'd start with the simplest things like shoes or socks - anything he was very interested in. We always made sure we pointed out like objects. What was important was we gave him the input frequently. He had 3 pairs of shoes in the summer. When he began picking out matching pairs on his own, we knew he was learning. We also liked the Fisher Price Basic Shape Sorter for matching objects as well as learning basic shapes. He can now successfully sort all the shapes on this shape sorter by himself.
Matching Objects to Pictures
We then moved on to using flashcards or picture cards. I made picture cards for him by taking pictures of his favorite toys, food, and members of our family. The cards are approximately 2-3/4" wide x 4" long, laminated and two-sided - with the picture on one side and the word on the other. Whenever he had yogurt for a snack, I'd show him the yogurt picture card. Whenever our cat was around, I'd show him the cat picture card. Whenever we were playing with Daddy's hat, I'd show him the hat picture card as well.
Matching Like Pictures
Teaching him to match like pictures was a little trickier because he had no interest in puzzles when we started. We used wooden inset puzzles (with the picture under the puzzle piece as well) such as the farm wooden puzzle by Small World Toys. We persisted and slowly built up the interest. These days, he doesn't always push puzzles away when it is offered to him as an activity. In fact, he can successfully complete up to 4 or 5 pieces of a wooden puzzle and sometimes signs "more" - translation: "let's do this again!"
Today, we continue to work on matching objects to pictures and matching like pictures. We have also begun introducing colors and matching colors - a work in progress. Matthew's therapist uses the Guidecraft Circular Sorter as well as other customized color matching activities. Another toy we have and like is the Melissa and Doug Stack and Sort Board. It's also good for learning and matching shapes. Another fun toy is the Leapfrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set.
There are so many other toys one can use to work on matching and sorting. What matching/ sorting toys do you like?