Awesome Ocean Animal Shadow Matching Game (Printable PDF)

Ocean animal shadow matching game for preschoolers and toddlers

Here’s another sea themed printable for you and your little ones. This one is a cute ocean animal shadow matching game.

Although it may seem like just a fun matching game to pass some time, shadow matching is actually a great way for children to improve their visual discrimination skills. This is the ability to be able to tell the difference between different shapes, objects or symbols.

And this skill is an extremely important one when it comes to being able to read. When you think about it, the basis of letter recognition is being able to tell different letters apart from each other and remembering what their shapes look like.

A brilliant thing about shadow matching is that it takes away any color or pattern clues so children have to focus on the outline of the shape – just like they have to when reading letters.

I’ve also included the names of the sea creatures on the color cards.

There’s 12 ocean animals to match, from the massive whale down to a sneaky little crab.

What Skills Can Your Little Ones Learn?

sea creature shadow matching game for preschool and kindergarten - hands on math and shape activity

For a simple matching game, there’s actually quite a lot of skills that can be learnt and practiced!

With this  ocean animal shadow matching game your little ones can develop:

  • Visual Discrimination skills– the ability to notice differences between objects and symbols. Your kids will have to look closely at the shapes to make the correct pairings!
  • Fine motor skills – as they’ll need to be able to pick up the cards, and hand-eye coordination and hand control as they ensure they are placing them with the right sea creature.
  • Speech and language skills – If you make sure you are getting them to talk about what they can see when they are matching. It’s a good chance to get them to describe what they can see. What shapes can you see? Do you know anything else that’s that shape?
  • Shape and pattern – shape and pattern recognition are important early math skills.
  • Patience and persistence – They’ll have to carry on even if they find it tricky at first.

Who’d have thought such a simple game can help your children develop so many skills – that’s the power of play!

How To Prepare This Sea Creature Shadow Matching Game

Firstly, you’ll need to download the game by clicking on the download box at the bottom of the page.

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Then, print them out on to paper or card.

Next, cut the cards out carefully.

There’s 12 colorful sea animal cards and 12 shadow cards.

I’d advise laminating them after as it will keep them nice if you want to use them again.

Now you’re all set and ready to play!

How To Use This Ocean Animal Shadow Matching Game

mal shadow matching game for preschool and kindergarten - hands on math and shape activity

Shadow Matching

To play the game I’d lay a selection of shadow cards on the floor or table. The more you lay out the harder the game will be so you may want to start with a few and add more as they get better at matching.

Then give your child a colorful animal card and see if they can pick out the correct match. Get them to look closely at the shapes and outline and focus on any distinguishing features.

Once they’ve matched it to the correct card, put that pairing to one side and give them another card to try again.

If they seem really confident, you could just place them all on the floor and let them go for it.

It might be fun to time them and see if they can beat their previous record!

Ocean Animal Flash Cards

You could also use the colorful cards with the names on as flash cards to help your little ones learn the names of some sea creatures as well as what they look like.

There’s 12 different ocean animals on these cards. You just need to say the name of the animal while showing your little ones the card.

Ask your children to think about features that might help them remember which animal is which. The narwhal for example, has his distinctive long tusk and the crab has his pinchy pincers. Be sure to repeat the name a few times while they are focused on thinking about the animal to really help embed it into their memory.

Who knows, you may be inspiring the next great marine biologist!

Some Tips to get Some Extra Language Development In

I mentioned above that these kinds of matching games can be great for language development as well as improving visual discrimination skills.

Talking about what they can see while they’re playing is always great.

Ask them to think about the colors. What colors can you see? What else in the room is that color? Do you know any other animals that have that color on them somewhere?

Ask them about the shapes. What shapes are the creatures made up of? What shapes can you see in the shadows? What else do you know that is that shape?

Talking about shapes can be great to enhance their early math skills as well!

Which animal do you think is the biggest? Which one do you think would be the strongest? – There’s loads you can ask them…

This kind of questioning will keep them engaged and make them think more about what they are doing. It’s also awesome for language development as you ask them to describe the ocean creatures.

Don’t let them get away with ‘big’ or ‘happy’; teach them some words they might not know like ‘massive’ or ‘gigantic’.

Later, you could ask them to describe pictures of ocean animals in a book. You’ll be surprised how often they use these new words!

I hope you and your little ones enjoy this sea creature shadow matching game!

Sea animal shadow matching game for preschool toddlers and kindergarten - printable hands on early years activity (1)

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