Make Your Own Tactile Matching Game

Make Your Own Tactile Matching Game
(Article originally from WonderBaby.org, reproduced with permission. See original article.) 

Do you ever look at all those little applesauce, fruit or yogurt cups piling up in your recycle bin and wonder if you could do something with them? Of course you do! You know they look like they'd be perfect for something, but what?

How about a tactile matching game?

I got the idea after pinning Cindy O'Connell's Shell Matching Game and a friend on Pinterest suggested using plastic lids instead of shells. We didn't have a bunch of lids but boy do we have applesauce cups!

All you need is a collection of cleaned applesauce snack cups (or any other small snack cups) and a few items to glue inside them and you've got a fun matching game that can be played with or without sight. Here's how to do it...

  What You'll Need
  • applesauce cups
  • cupcake baking cups (optional)
  • cardstock or construction paper (optional)
  • small items to place inside your cups
  • glue
  Project Prep

Collect small plastic snack cups and hold on to them until you have at least 10 or 12. We used applesauce cups, but small fruit cup, yogurt or baby food cups would work just as well. Just make sure they are all the same size and shape so they all feel the same.

If you're using an opaque cup (like a white yogurt cup) then you won't need to make any modifications. If you're using clear cups, then you may want to glue a cupcake baking cup inside each one to hide the contents from sighted players. This will even the playing field and allow your visually impaired child to play along with sighted peers and siblings. 

We also cut a small circle from cardstock and glued that onto the bottom of each cup to create a nice high-contrast foundation for our items. You can choose colors that you know your child will be able to see or that will make your objects stand out better.

The next part is the most fun... find objects to glue to the bottom of each cup. Look for varying textures and make sure you create two of each so you can match them up when you play your game later. Here are some objects that work well: cotton balls, tissue paper, mylar, shells, small stones, uncooked pasta or popcorn, paperclips, small gift bows, string, buttons, bottle caps, play-doh etc etc. Bumpy objects (like sea shells) may stick better with hot glue.

After all the glue dries, place your cups upside down on a cookie sheet. Each player takes turn choosing two cups to see if they've found a match. If not, the cups go back on the board. When you find a match, you get to keep your cups and go again. The player with the most cups at the end of the game wins. It's the classic Memory game, but with a tactile twist!

 Other Ways to Play

Matching may be difficult for some kids and that's OK! You could start by just exploring the cups and feeling what's inside each one. How does it feel? Is it bumpy or smooth? What do you think it is?
For kids learning braille, why not play a braille matching game? Instead of glueing objects to the bottom of your cups, you could braille letters or words on cardstock and place them in the cups. Can you match the braille letters?

Or how about playing with numbers? You could glue something easy to count, like dried beans, to the bottom of the cups in different numbers. Have your child count how many beans are in the cups and sort them by number.

You could also play with shapes (make half the cups with circular items and half with square) and see if your child can sort the shapes into piles.

Ivan picked up a cup and smelled it and that gave me the idea to make a scented version of this game. All you need to do is glue a cotton ball onto the bottom of each cup and then place one drop of a scented oil or extract on each ball. Instead of trying to match objects by touch you could try to match cotton balls by smell!

How ever you play, you can use this game as a way to encourage your child to touch, explore and think about their environment!

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