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Fun Object-To-Picture Matching Activities (4 Simple Ideas)

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Montessori object-to-picture matching activities

Last spring and summer, my daughter, Annie, loved to see the flowers outside. She enjoyed helping us to water them every day and watch them grow. Now that it’s spring again, her eyes light up when she sees flowers.

Annie is three-and-a-half now, and we have been attending a gardening class each week at the farm. Last week, Annie got to plant some daffodils. She enjoyed getting her hands in there so much! 

Montessori, gardening, planting daffodils
planting daffodils at the farm

If you’ve been following my posts, I’ve been sharing oral language lessons, like matching activities, from my Montessori training. I thought it would be fun to do our next lesson, object to picture matching with a flower set. 

Young children love to see familiar objects and things from daily life while looking through books. Naturally, they love to match the objects they find with the pictures they see in books.

You can make a fun matching activity for this! I’ll share the matching objects to pictures lesson that you can pull together for your child.

But in my experience as a teacher, finding the right pictures to go with a set of objects can be tricky. So I’ll also share 4 simple ideas for you on how you can find pictures to go with your objects.

object picture match flower pin

In This Post

Why are object-to-picture matching activities important?

Matching objects to pictures and other similar matching games helps your child develop skills needed for literacy and reading.

According to VeryWell Family,

"Use pictures of familiar objects, magazine photos and objects in catalogs. This activity helps your child develop vocabulary, verbal reasoning skills, visual processing, image recognition, and memory."

Matching objects to pictures helps your child to practice:

  • concentration
  • order
  • moving from left to right (preparation for writing and reading)
  • the ability to see the concrete to the abstract

Moving from concrete to abstract

Furthermore, matching objects to pictures helps extend the matching skill. Your child is exploring and learning about abstraction.

When matching a “concrete” object to an “abstract” picture, your child is visually analyzing the 3-D object in her hand and comparing it to the 2-D image.

matching activities, Montessori, vocabulary, concrete to abstract, flowers
matching the sunflower picture to the sunflower object

Your child makes the connection when she realizes that “this sunflower object is the same as that sunflower in the picture.” 

She has an “aha” moment with this exploration of abstraction, which is why this matching activity helps prepare her for writing and reading. 

Matching objects to pictures could be challenging, especially if the image is slightly different from the object, like the color, size, or shape.

When pulling together an object-to-picture matching lesson, try to find themes and topics that your child is familiar with or has had some in-person interaction with first. 

For instance, Annie got the chance to plant real daffodils in the garden, so we moved on to matching small flower objects to pictures.

Young children should explore the real thing first, then 3-D objects and figures, and then pictures. 

vocabulary, concrete to abstract, flowers
matching small flower objects to pictures

Matching objects to pictures for vocabulary development

As in all Montessori oral language activities, matching objects to pictures helps with vocabulary development. 

Annie expressed an interest in flowers and she enjoyed planting the daffodils at the farm. Now she can learn the unique names of different flowers with the flower object to picture matching!

You can further build on vocabulary by seeing what your child loves the most from an activity. 

For example, Annie’s favorite flower in the set is the sunflower. It’s the first flower she reaches for, and she wants to carry it around.

Based on this observation, I can look into further information about sunflowers. I can pull together vocabulary words and pictures for the life cycle of a sunflower and parts of a sunflower. 

Preschool activities, early literacy, object to picture
object-to-picture matching lesson with flowers

How to do the Montessori object-to-picture matching lesson

What you will need

You’ll need a tray or a basket with objects and a set of pictures to match them. 

Be sure that the objects and matching pictures are within one category or theme. For instance:

  • birds
  • butterflies
  • fruits, vegetables
  • toolbox (wrench, screwdriver)

As I mentioned in my previous post about matching object-to-objects, there is an extensive collection of  Safari Ltd. Toobswhich are excellent for matching activities. 

The fantastic thing about matching objects to pictures is that you’ll only need to get one toob (rather than get duplicate toobs) because you’ll match one object to one picture. 

The hardest part is finding a nice set of pictures to go with the toob objects!

See below: “4 simple ideas to find pictures to match your objects”

I have one set of the Safari Ltd Toob flowers, which Annie loves to play with, so I thought it would be perfect for object-to-picture matching!

I made a set of eight flower cards to match the objects for this activity. 

If you would like to download them, scroll down to the bottom of this post and sign up for the Resource Library. 

The flower toob includes eight flowers:

  • sunflower
  • orchid
  • rose
  • hibiscus
  • tulip
  • lotus
  • daffodil
  • bird of paradise 

Step by step: object-to-picture matching lesson

vocabulary, concrete to abstract, flowers

Invite your child to do the activity, name the activity “Object Picture Matching,” and bring the basket of objects and cards to an area rug on the floor (or on the table).

Place the basket in the upper right corner of the rug.

matching activities, vocabulary, Montessori

Take all objects out of the basket one at a time. Name, placing one under the other in a vertical line on the left edge of the rug. Leave enough room for the matching picture cards.

Remove the pictures and place them randomly in the lower right corner of the rug.

matching activities, Montessori, vocabulary, concrete to abstract, flowers

Choose a card, and starting at the top, match the cards to the objects. Compare one by one, placing the card to the right of the object. 

Name the objects and cards and let your child repeat.

You can use the Montessori Three-Period Lesson to help your child learn the names of objects she doesn’t know.

Montessori, vocabulary, matching activities

Mix up the cards and repeat.

Return the objects and cards to the basket and return them to the shelf.

Play a sensorial matching game with a mystery bag

To make this activity more challenging and fun, you can play a game with a mystery bag. Get a drawstring bag, small pillowcase, or pouch to be your mystery bag.

Put all of the objects inside the bag. 

Place all cards in a vertical line on the table or area rug. Leave room for the objects.

Look at the first picture.

Reach into the bag. Try to find the object that matches the first picture.

No peeking! Feel around the bag with your hand to find the matching object.


4 simple ideas to find pictures to match your objects

The hardest part of pulling together an object picture matching lesson is finding pictures to match the objects. 

I have 4 ideas for you based on my experiences as a Montessori teacher and working with my daughter, Annie, at home. 

1. Take pictures of the objects

matching activities, Montessori, object to picture matching, concrete to abstract, herbs, garden
matching herbs from the garden to their pictures

I didn’t take pictures to make cards too often when I was teaching, but many teachers I knew took their own photos of objects to create their own cards. 

You can even take pictures of the little Safari Ltd. Toob objects for your cards!

Last year at home with Annie, I took pictures of herbs from our herb garden and created a set of herb cards. 

We picked the herbs and did an object to picture matching activity with the real herbs.

To learn more about what we did with the herb garden cards, check out my blog post, Montessori 3-Part Cards and Language Development: First, Get Your Hands Dirty!

More ideas for taking photos from things around the house:

  • real fruit or vegetables
  • real flowers
  • rocks, minerals, and crystals
  • fall leaves
  • seashells
  • little animal figures
  • any collection of small objects
oral language development, preschool activities, Ocean activities, ocean theme for preschoolers, toddlers, Montessori, language curriculum, ocean object picture matching
ocean animal object-picture matching

2. Find photos online that match your objects

You can find photos of anything online to make cards. The ocean animal example in the image above came from online pictures. Also, the flower cards we used came from online pictures. 

The photos don’t exactly match the objects, but that’s okay! It adds a little bit of a challenge to the matching activity.

If you’re using images found online for educational purposes in your classroom or school, I would always double-check the copyright information of the photos before using them. 

Always check copyright and permissions information if you’re making copies of them, distributing them in your school, or selling them.

To be safe, find a free stock photo website, like Unsplash, that allows you to use photos free for commercial use. Typically you need to include photo credits to credit the photographer appropriately. 

Tip: you could also make cards with illustrations or clipart found online for free or purchase. Always check copyright and permissions for further information on how you can use them.

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Leaf flash cards you could match with real leaves

3. Use pre-made flash cards or print out cards from online

The picture above is an example of flashcards you could buy to go with objects. You can use the leaf cards to match real leaves and seeds that you find out in nature. 

You can find flashcards or printable cards online for just about anything. If you search for matching cards or flashcards on Etsy or Amazon, you’ll see that the ideas are endless. 

You can also find pre-made object-to-picture matching activities on Etsy, Amazon, or other shops selling Montessori materials.

These can get expensive. I prefer to make cards myself with free stock photos or my photos, which is more cost-effective.

Keep in mind that if you buy pre-made cards, it may be challenging to match them up with a particular set of objects you already have.

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rocks and minerals cards made from the pamphlet photos

4. Cut out pictures from old magazines or books (or use stickers)

I often cut out pictures from old magazines and old books for matching object-to-picture lessons when I was a teacher. 

For example, I did my curriculum development project on rocks and minerals for my Montessori training. I cut out the photos from the little companion pamphlet from the rocks and minerals kit. 

I made little matching cards with those photos to go with the rocks and minerals, and they came out beautifully!

I have also made cards from a collection of bargain books about animals I found at Barnes and Noble. 

Also, you may have old books or magazines at home. Before donating or throwing them out, you can go through them and make a collection of pictures that could go together to create an object-to-picture matching activity. 

I have also used a sticker book of farm animals to make little cards to go with farm animal figures.

Toddler activities, oral language, concrete to abstract
baby farm animal cards made with stickers

Concluding thoughts about object-to-picture matching

Annie loved matching the flower objects to the flower pictures. I noticed that she kept confusing the hibiscus with the lotus because the colors and shapes in the photos were not exactly the same as the object.

But this exploration and discovery is an excellent practice because it takes one step further by allowing your child to explore abstraction. 

Going from object to object matching to object to picture matching is significant. Your child is matching a 3D object to a 2D picture and making this abstract connection that they are the same. 

You can start this activity by matching some animal toys and figures with animal books you may have around the house. Give this activity a try, and let me know how it goes. Leave a comment below! 

object picture match flower pin

More Montessori Resources

You can also download the lesson plans for:

  1. Beginning Oral Language Activities
  2. Picture Story (Dictation) Plus 24 photos and the lined paper we used!
  3. Naming – plus 140 labels for around the house
  4. Classified Objects – plus 8 insect photo cards
  5. Object Discrimination (Object Matching)
  6. Object Picture Matching – plus 8 flower photo cards to go with objects

I will be adding all of the lesson plans as I write additional blog posts about Oral Language.

You can download them all below, by signing up for the Resources Library.

Montessori object-to-picture matching activities

flower printable pin

To download the flower cards printable, sign up for the Resources Library, below. 

20 thoughts on “Fun Object-To-Picture Matching Activities (4 Simple Ideas)”

  1. This is so creative. These creativities are good for children. I tried all the activities in my childhood. This post reminds me of all childhood activities.

    1. Charina, making picture matching cards for vegetables and plants is a wonderful idea for a gardening theme!

  2. every time i read these posts on your blog, i am amazed at the level of detail and the amount of information presented that is sure to help many.. kudos once again on a great post

  3. Creating this activity out of something she is interested in right now is brilliant! I can see another use for this in bringing the pictures out with you while you hunt for the flowers in nature. So fun!

    1. Katie, I love your idea to bring the pictures out with you while you hunt for flowers in nature! That would be an awesome hands-on Montessori real object to picture matching!

  4. Love this!! I actually learned so much by reading this. Will definitely try out some form of object and picture matching with my 2.5 year old

  5. I loved your explanations for the benefit of matching objects. This is such a simple but effective way to teach kids to compare different things. I can Imagine the concentration they will have from noticing the details of each flower. Can’t wait to try

  6. I loved your explanations for the benefit of matching objects. This is such a simple but effective way to teach kids to compare different things. I can Imagine the concentration they will have from noticing the details of each flower. Can’t wait to try

  7. I always love finding ways to incorporate Montessori-style activities into our day. This one would be so much fun for my son who is starting to recognize patterns and similarities and differences!

  8. My toddler just started using the word “same” to describe two similar objects! Made me so happy when he started making these connections on his own! 🙂

  9. The activities that you have suggested are so great. I remember you talked about matching animals last week (or a few weeks ago), and now you use flowers. My daughters love nature, so this will definitely be a fun activity for them. I guess I have to figure out where to get the flowers now to create this activity for them. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

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