This free printable Chinese Zodiac Animals matching game is a fun way to test your child's memory skills and fine motor skills. This game encourages younger children to pay attention to detail and is great for a Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year theme. I hope you enjoy using these printable games with your family or classroom!
This post may include affiliate links which means I may earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.
This memory matching game was deigend with toddlers, preschoolers, pre-k, and kindergarten age children in mind. Older children may find the game too simple, unless they need additional practice or therapy.
Like other free printable matching games here on The Artisan Life, this memory card game includes "regular" matching pairs and a shadow matching game.
This post includes suggestions for using these printables as memory game cards and as a simple matching game that even young kids can enjoy.
Each printable page includes 12 sets of cards - one for each animal of the Chinese Zodiac. Remove some of the printable cards from the game to make the game easier.
Table of Contents
Teaching the Chinese New Year to preschoolers and kindergartners
The terms Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year are not exactly interchangeable and they've both stirred up controversy in recent years.
People in many parts of Asia, and elsewhere in the world, celebrate the Lunar New Year. The dates are not always the same as the Chinese New Year and each region has its own specific foods and traditions. The Chinese Zodiac animals are also not universally used in other Asian countries.
According to my friends and family who have lived and worked in China, it is appropriate to call the holiday the "Chinese New Year" when speaking about Chinese-specific traditions and their spring holiday.
For example, my Thai aunt by marriage enjoys celebrating Chinese New Year and Thai new year, Songkran, on April 13. Her Thai family enjoys celebrating any holiday they know about!
The book The Great Race is the perfect accompaniment to these matching cards. The Great Race tells the story of the Chinese zodiac animals in simplified Chinese, Pinyin, and English.
Your book purchase includes access to an audio recording in Mandarin to help with pronunciation or to expose your child to the sounds of another language.
- Lee, Ling (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 37 Pages - 12/03/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)
Learning Center members can log in here to quickly and easily download these printables from their simplified, ad-free site.
Not a Learning Center member yet? No problem! You can keep scrolling down the post to download your matching cards or unlock 350+ direct downloads from The Learning Center when you join for as little as 7 cents a day.
Are memory match games developmentally appropriate?
Matching games can benefit younger kids, even if they can’t play a face down memory game yet. I have suggestions for how to play with kids of all ages a bit lower down in the post.
The US Department of Education recommends playing memory games and counting puzzle and game pieces with young children.
Playing with physical game pieces is more beneficial than playing an electronic matching game. Picking up the cards requires manual dexterity and placing them back in the grid, if you’re playing memory, also requires coordination and dexterity.
How to print and use matching cards
You don’t need much to get these Groundhog's Day matching cards printed and in use. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Your free printables! (See below for download links)
- Paper or card stock paper. I recommend 32 lb bright white paper. For a side-by-side comparison of several papers, see this post on the best paper for printables.
- Laminator and laminating pouch (optional, but brings the best results)
- Paper cutter or scissors
- Ziplock bag or plastic bin to store your cards for later use
If you need to print on regular paper instead of card stock or a heavy duty paper, I recommend gluing or taping the cards to a cardboard sheet for durability.
First, download your printables from towards the end of the post. Look for the row of purple arrows pointing the way.
Next, print the pages you want. There are three pages - one with regular matching cards, one with shadow matching cards, and one with the remaining two pairs of each style. The margins are safe for almost all printers so you should be able to print at 100%.
Laminate pages before cutting, if you're laminating. If you don't have a laminator, you can "laminate" the cut out cards with clear packing tape.
Finally, cut out the cards along the dotted line using scissors or, for faster and more accurate cuts, a paper trimmer.
A guillotine style paper cutter is more effective for laminated pages, but a (safer) paper trimmer works, too. I regularly use this paper trimmer on laminated pages: (The page shown below comes from these garden themed matching cards.)
Play and enjoy! Look in the section below for play ideas.
Free printable matching card games fun game suggestions
You can place all the cards face up, half the cards down for a modified memory game, or all the cards face down for a more difficult game of memory matching. You can remove some of the pairs to make the memory version of the game easier for younger children.
Preschoolers and toddlers can work on finding the matching card and counting to two.
To play a full matching game, place a set of the cards face down in a grid.
- Like with other matching games, the first player will flip two cards face up.
- If they match, the player removes the cards from play.
If the cards shown have different images, the cards are flipped face down again. Play then proceeds to the next player.
Play continues until all pairs of cards have been found.
The shadow matching cards can be used in the same manner as the "regular" cards. They can be played face up or, for an extra hard brain exercise, play with the shadow matching cards face down.
Printable Chinese New Year matching game PDF file download area
Alright, let’s get to the free printables!
Like other free preschool printables on The Artisan Life, this game is free for personal and classroom use. You are also welcome to use it with scout troops, homeschool co-ops, library activities, etc.
You are not licensed to redistribute the printouts or digital files to others. Please send your friends or coworkers to this post so they can download their own copies.
If you agree to this license, you may click below:
I hope your little learner or students enjoy playing this matching game!
Make sure to download these additional free learning printables for preschoolers while you're here: