things that go together, Montessori, sports, go-togethers, matching cards

Things That Go Together: 1 Easy Brain Game To Boost Cognition

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Montessori Go-Togethers: match things that go together

“Why?”….such a simple question with profound depth baffled even the world’s greatest thinkers. But, that little one-syllable word (which can sometimes be irritating) is such an important word for your child’s cognitive development.

The next lesson in the language sequence is another matching activity. Matching things that go together is similar to matching pictures. However, with go-togethers, you are not matching identical pairs. 

It’s more challenging to do this. Your child is analyzing the pictures that go together. She uses her memory and knowledge of the world around her to figure out which pictures go together. 

Your child will most likely ask, “Why” while talking about the things that go together. A go-together activity is excellent for cognitive development and language development.

I thought it would be a fantastic idea to make a set of go-together cards with a sports theme because my three-year-old daughter, Annie, loves sports. 

Before Annie started walking, we’d hold her hands as she kicked the soccer ball.

soccer ball, Montessori, sports
Kicking the soccer ball in the backyard

We recently visited a playground we hadn’t been to before. The park also had a large field and a beautiful tennis court. Annie was more interested in those areas than the playground that day!

She watched a tennis match between two women, and one of them gave her a tennis ball to keep. Soon after, Annie ran off to the fields. She had found a three-year-old boy with a soccer ball. They spent the next 15 minutes kicking the soccer ball back and forth. 

Annie enjoyed the sports go-together cards, but they were more challenging for her than regular matching cards. Then, we brought out real sports balls with the matching cards to see what would happen.

This post will show you how to do the go-together lesson from my Montessori teacher training. I’ll also share my experiences from the classroom and with Annie at home.

go together sports pin 1

In This Post

What is cognitive development in early childhood?

"Cognition, or cognitive development, includes reasoning, memory, problem-solving, and thinking skills. Young children use these abilities to make sense of and organize their world."

Further, VeryWell Mind’s article, Cognitive Development Milestones, talks about milestones for children from birth to age five. Specifically for three to four year olds, the article says:

"Children become increasingly capable of analyzing the world around them in more complex ways. As they observe things, they begin to sort and categorize them into different categories... Since children are becoming much more active in the learning process, they also begin to pose questions about the world around them. 'Why?' becomes a very common question around this age."

As I write this, Annie is just about three years and nine months old, and I’ve noticed her asking “why” a lot more. Our conversations go into more detail, and I observe many more “aha” moments! 

We can practice and further develop cognition with fun activities, such as matching non-identical pictures that go together. They’re almost like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle! 

Montessori, cognitive development, things that go together
matching go together sports cards

What are the benefits of go-togethers?

As we progress through the scope and sequence of the Montessori oral language lessons, the activities become more and more abstract. 

The go-together lesson is like picture matching. But this time, your child is not matching identical pairs; instead, she matches completely different pictures that go together. 

The activity adds a level of complexity and abstraction. The benefits of matching pictures (or objects) that go together include:

  • preparation for writing and reading (left-to-right movement)
  • vocabulary enrichment
  • problem-solving
  • thinking skills
  • memory
things that go together, Montessori, sports, go-togethers, matching cards
The tennis player and the tennis ball go togehter

How to do the Montessori go-togethers lesson

What you will need

You’ll need a tray or basket containing pairs of objects or pictures of things that go together.

Your first basket of go-together objects could be items you have from around the house. You could also use miniature objects or pictures. Hands-on objects are an excellent choice for very young children and young toddlers. For Instance:

  • lock and key
  • vase and flower
  • fork and spoon
  • salt and pepper
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • paintbrush and paint
  • cup and saucer
  • sock and shoe
  • flashlight and battery
  • umbrella and rain boots
  • broom and dustpan
  • bread and butter
  • dress and hanger

Tip: start out with no more than 8 pairs for the youngest children so that they are not overwhelmed.

You could also use different themes or more detailed topics for things that go together. Here are more topic ideas:

  • animals and their habitats
  • mother animals and their young
  • opposites
  • trees and their leaves
  • seasons and clothing
  • workers and their tools
  • fruits and their seeds
  • rooms and furniture
Montessori, go together cards, sports
Matching sport go together cards and the ball that goes with them

I made sports cards with the ball or equipment that goes with a particular sport. I made nine pairs:

  • soccer
  • tennis
  • baseball
  • basketball
  • golf
  • football
  • ice hockey
  • volleyball
  • bowling

*I made sports go-together cards. If you’d like to download them, sign up for the Resource Library at the bottom of this post. If you’re already a subscriber, the latest password to the Resource Library is in my newest email.

things that go together, Montessori, sports
Sports go together cards in a basket

Step-by-step: go-togethers lesson

Invite your child to do the activity, name the activity “go-togethers” and bring the basket of objects or cards to an area rug on the floor.

Get the basket and place it at the upper right corner of the rug. Remove the cards or objects, and randomize them on the rug.

go-togethers, language, Montessori
Randomize the cards on the mat

Select a card or object and say the name. Look for the card or object that goes with it. Say the names of the match and say, “these go together.” Explain to your child why they go together.

Place the pair in the upper left corner of the rug. 

Complete the activity in the same manner, each time placing the pair below the previous pair matched. The pair will be lined up vertically at the left edge of the mat. 

cognitive development, things that go together, montessori
Match the cards in a vertical line

Beginning with the first pair, rename each picture/object and state why they go together again. 

Remove the cards/objects from the right side and place them in the basket. Then remove the cards/objects from the right side and put them in the basket—return basket to shelf.

go togethers, sports, cognitive development, Montessori
Go together sports matching cards completed

Tip: You can color code the matching cards on the back with a colored dot of paint or a colored sticker. In the Montessori world, this is called “control of error.”  This way, your child can match the cards independently. She can check her work by flipping the cards to confirm that the color dot matches. 

Problem solving while developing language

When I did my Montessori teacher training and then practiced this lesson with the children in the classroom, I discovered that the key to this lesson is problem-solving and spurred conversation. 

With identical picture matching, your child is visually matching pictures. But when you have to find the matching go together card, you have to analyze, think, solve the problem and talk about it. 

While matching the sports go-togethers, Annie was intrigued by the golfer. We talked about the golf club, the golf course, the golfer, and the golf ball. 

I told Annie that the golfer was on the golf course and used the golf club to hit the golf ball. The golfer tries to get the golf ball into the hole in the ground.


Montessori, go-togethers, cognitive development
The golfer swings the golf club and hits the golf ball

While matching items from around the house that go together, for example, you would say to your child:

“The dress goes with the hanger because you have to hang the dress on the hanger to hang up your dress in the closet. This way, the dress doesn’t get wrinkled.”

Or, “the battery goes with the flashlight because, for the flashlight to work, you have to put the battery in it to power the flashlight to turn on and give us light.”

More conversations can come up when you say these statements to your child. You’re most likely to hear your child ask the best little one-syllable word, “Why?”

Tip: After you completed matching the cards, go back to the beginning, name the cards, and state why they go together as you point to them again. This reiteration helps with language development and remembering vocabulary.

Sort go-together cards: A fun variation

A great way to change things up with the go-together cards is to sort them. 

You could get several collections of go-together cards, and after you match them all, you could sort them by category. Examples; include sports players cards, workers and their tools, community helpers, and places where they work. 

Another idea is to sort each sport with multiple photos. While I was researching different sports photos to make the sports go-together cards, I found so many great options. It was hard to choose the best photo because there were so many. 

I thought it would be an excellent idea to choose four photos for each sport and make it a sorting activity. For instance, under the soccer ball photo, you could have four different photos of soccer players, goals, or soccer fields to go with the soccer category. 

things that go together, Montessori, sports
Using the real ball to go with the card

Concluding Thoughts about things that go together

While doing the sports go together cards, I noticed that many of the pictures were new to Annie. The first time we did the lesson, it seemed to be a bit too challenging for her.

However, I realized that the only sport from the cards that she isn’t familiar with is volleyball. Her dad plays golf and bowling, and he watches baseball, football, tennis, golf, and hockey. Annie has a soccer ball and an outdoor baseball and basketball set.

She was intrigued by the pictures and loved talking about them. When we went back to the lesson the second time, we had the real sports balls from her dad’s collection (well, most of them). It brought the lesson to life and Annie was so excited!

Begin with everyday objects you could find around the house for your first go-together activity. That would be an excellent starting point to get used to the lesson. To add a bit more of a challenge, give the sports go-together cards a try! 

You’ll be surprised how many things work with this go-together activity. It provides a host of opportunities to spark conversation with your child and explore the world around them in a fun, engaging manner.

What go-together activities have you tried? How did it go? Was there a specific matching activity that was a win with your child? Leave a comment below!  

go together sports pin 1

More Montessori Resources

lesson 8 go togethers mockup

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

* The Three Period Lesson Cheat Sheet – plus
7 bird photo cards (you can use this method to remember vocabulary words from any lesson).

7. Picture Matching – plus
11 dog breed photo cards to match or play memory (print out two copies of the picture-only cards to make matching cards).

8. Go-Togethers – plus 9 pairs of sports go together matching cards

Montessori Go-Togethers: match things that go together

sports go together cards mockup pin

16 thoughts on “Things That Go Together: 1 Easy Brain Game To Boost Cognition”

  1. A very informative post not just for homeschooled mums but for everyone. I love that you explained everything in detailed for us to learn it step by step on how to apply this.

  2. as always, appreciate the research, the little things you ensure you add to these activities that will make it useful for many.. i will be sure to share it with friends and family with kids this age

  3. I love this activity. My daughters are currently on a soccer team and they would of loved this activity.

  4. I really love this! I enjoyed reading your experience. I will be trying this out with my toddler. We are always looking for new educational activities!

  5. I love these! As someone who studied psychology and especially focused on children’s minds, I absolutely love this post. Children need challenges and stimulation. It is beautiful how your daughter leaned into learning about sports and how to match things. It definitely further stretches her neuroolacisity on top of cognition. I look forward to doing this with my son. When he is a little older.

    1. Rebekah, thank you so much for your comment! It’s great to hear your thoughts on the psychology aspect and on children’s minds. I’m so glad that you’ll try activities on things that go together with your son when he’s a bit older!

      1. This is such a wonderful and educational brain game idea for children! Your tips and instructions are extremely helpful 🙂

  6. This is such a great set to introduce to young kids! My daughter is very active, and loves to play sports, but so far she has only been exposed to a handful of sports, and I would love to introduce her to more. This would be great – hopefully it won’t be to challenging for her!

    1. Vi-Zanne, that’s wonderful that you’d like to try sports go-togethers with your daughter!

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