Review: Mini Mix & Match cards by Ravensburger

How early should a toddler learn matching skills? At 18 months we noticed Little Miss demonstrate interest in matching pictures.

We have a Flip & Learn Alphabet toy which is a plastic unit with flaps representing letters, colors and numbers. Press a flap and it flips up to show a related drawing. As luck would have it, the manufacturer reused the same drawings for multiple tabs (hey, what should I expect for 50 cents at a garage sale?). The toy itself is probably intended for a three-year-old, but Miss likes pushing the tabs. More importantly, she recently became aware that the drawings repeat and she tried to find where she had seen the earlier drawings.

Mini Mix and Match cardsGiven this cognitive development, we ran out the next day looking for a matching game. We settled on Mini Mix & Match by Ravensburger for $7 at an educational toy store. The game consists of 48 matching cards rated for 4-year-olds, but we thought they would work for Miss. The cards are easy to handle at 2 inches square, made of thick cardboard (paperboard?) which is not easily bent. Each card features a color photo of an animal or animal pair – many depicting a parent and baby combination. Little Miss already looks at photos of a big and little animal, pointing to each saying, “mama” and “baby.”

Some of the photos have more detail or background activity than seems appropriate for a toddler, but I have to remember these cards were intended for 4-year-olds.

We have sat down with Little Miss a few times to do basic matching. For example, the first time, we displayed six cards (three animal combinations) in front of her, letting her look them over, telling her the animal names, and then turning the cards face down. When she turned a card over, we asked her the animal’s name and to find the other animal card. I love watching her brain work.

Looking at the manufacturer’s web site I noticed it has a new offering, My First Matching Game, designed for 2-year-olds. The difference? It has machine washable “soft, pillow cards” with simplified animal drawings. It appears to be a far superior option than our Mix & Match cards. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anyone selling My First Matching Game. I’ll post an update when I receive a response to an inquiry about purchasing it through Ravensburger’s online store (it isn’t listed for sale).

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