Matching skills are an essential pre-academic skill that helps early learners develop their cognitive abilities, language skills, and problem-solving skills. It is a fundamental skill that helps children recognize similarities and differences, classify objects, and make connections between objects, words, and ideas. Matching skills are important for children of all ages and can be scaffolded to help children learn and master more complex concepts. I must admit, I never understood the importance of the skills until I learned about the Assessment of Basic Language & Learner Skills (ABLLS)! Check out below on how to scaffold matching skills up to complex and the importance of this pre-academic skill.
What are matching skills?
Matching skills involve identifying and recognizing similarities and differences between objects, pictures, or words. It is the ability to pair or group objects that are alike in some way. Matching skills can be visual, auditory, or both. For example, matching skills can involve matching colors, shapes, sizes, patterns, or sounds.
Why are matching skills important?
Matching skills are an essential pre-academic skill that helps children learn and develop many other skills. These skills include:
- Cognitive development: Matching skills help children develop their cognitive abilities such as attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. It helps children recognize patterns and make connections between objects and ideas.
- Language development: Matching skills help children develop their language skills by introducing new words and concepts. For example, matching colors can introduce new vocabulary words such as red, blue, yellow, and green.
- Mathematical concepts: Matching skills help children develop mathematical concepts such as counting, sorting, and comparing. It helps children understand concepts such as more than, less than, and equal to.
- Visual perception: Matching skills help children develop their visual perception skills by recognizing and identifying similarities and differences between objects.
How to scaffold matching skills in early learners
Matching skills can be scaffolded to help children learn and master more complex concepts. Scaffolding is the process of breaking down complex skills into smaller, more manageable steps. Here are some ways to scaffold matching skills in early learners:
- Start with simple matching activities: Start with simple matching activities such as matching colors, shapes, or sizes. Use real objects, pictures, or cards to make the activity more engaging.
- Always make sure you are using a student’s dedicated device if they have one or some type of appropriate visual communication support such as a matching noun (fringe) board and/or core language board.
- Provide cues: Provide cues or prompts to help children make connections between objects. For example, say “these two objects are the same color” or “these two objects have the same shape”.
- Gradually increase complexity: Gradually increase the complexity of the matching activities by adding more categories or introducing more complex concepts such as patterns or sounds.
- Make it fun: Make matching activities fun and engaging by using games, puzzles, or songs. For example, play a game of memory or sing a song about colors
- In the above picture you can see that I only took off one column of pictures at a time to teach the skill. If your student will want to take off ALL the pieces, start with only a few on the board and then add in as you go!
Complex matching skills like the examples see here are a type of cognitive skill that require the ability to recognize abstract or subtle similarities and differences between objects, pictures, or words. This skill is assessed using the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS), which measures a range of pre-academic and academic skills in learners with developmental delays or disabilities. Complex matching skills involve identifying relationships between items, grouping items based on categories or attributes, and making comparisons between different objects or concepts. When I introduce a new skill like complex matching, I will take one picture at a time and model comparing it to the choices available. I celebrate quite obviously when I find the correct match! You can find these complex matching activities HERE. Happy matching!