Montessori Inspired Matching and Sorting at 2 Years Old

Matching and sorting have been some of my favorite work to observe. Even before Eli had the words to express the connections and patterns he began to see in the world, he could demonstrate his thoughts through these matching and sorting invitations. Now, at 2.5 years old, his matching and sorting works are moving away from the concrete (he began matching object to object at 15 months old) and further into abstraction. Here are some of his favorite matching and sorting works since turning 2 years old:

Weather/art sorting from Cactus & Fern’s Weather Discovery Box. One of my favorite materials from Cactus & Fern! Weather symbols serve as the sorting titles and then famous artworks are sorted based on the weather depicted. Eli especially loves examining the rainbow and tornado artwork cards, and he likes to talk about the characteristics of the various weather types as he sorts.

Spots/stripes animal sorting. I’m not sure who loves Schleich animals more: me or Eli. But, they sure come in handy for a variety of work. I pulled various animals with spots and stripes (always making sure there was an equal amount of spotted and striped animals for a bit of control of error) and provided a card with spots and a card with stripes for the sorting titles. I switch out the animals occasionally to keep him on his toes and recently increased the number of animals to be sorted to 12 total.

Household room/object sorting. I used object language cards from The Montessori Company and photographs I took of our living room, kitchen, and the boys’ bathroom for the title cards and printed and laminated them. Eli thoroughly enjoys sorting the objects to the room for which they are found. In true toddler style, there’s a lot of jumping and “hurrah”-ing after every sort. Ha!

Animal/eye matching. I found these cards from Montessori Print Shop, and they’ve been a huge hit. Eli must focus on one detail of the bigger picture to match. In this case, the animal’s eye. Not only does it refine his ability to examine a specific element in a larger picture, but it started a great conversation about eyes: why we have them, why they are different from one species to another, etc. We also discussed eye color, which led me to ask Eli, “What color are my eyes?” He looked into my eyes and said, “Blue…and red.” Ha! Yes, thank you, toddler of mine. I was up all night with a newborn.

Animal sound/picture matching from Sonix Junior. The game comes with animal cards and a CD of animal sounds. We play the animal sound one at a time, and Eli finds the corresponding animal picture. You’re probably going to have to do some Ebay searching for this. I bought it awhile back on Amazon, but it’s no longer available (at a reasonable price), and I’m kicking myself for not having also bought the musical instruments version. Eli loves this game, and I love how it adds another sense to his matching skills. Unlike other children’s animal sound toys, the sounds are of the actual animal.

And those are his favorite matching and sorting works since turning 2 years old. What are your toddler’s favorites?


  1. Lindsey

    Would you mind sharing what 12 schleich animals you have for the spots and stripes matching game? Thank you!

    • Lindsay

      I’d be more than happy to! Stripes: tiger, zebra, panda, skunk, macaw, bee (not Schleich). Spots: giraffe, fawn, cow/bull, snowy owl, peacock, jaguar. I hope this helps!

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