Get ready for family-friendly Mardi Gras fun with this free printable Mardi Gras matching game! Toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners can all enjoy these free printable matching cards when you modify play to differentiate instruction. Play with the cards face up or turn them face down for a Mardi Gras themed game of memory.
This set includes three different page of matching cards: a page of classic matching cards with exact path pairs; a mirror image matching game, and a shadow matching game.
For more family-friendly Mardi Gras fun, be sure to download these free printable Mardi Gras bingo boards.
Developmental benefits of matching games
Matching games can benefit children, even if they can’t play a face down memory game yet.
The US Department of Education recommends playing memory games with young children. They also suggest counting the pieces aloud as you play. Preschoolers and toddlers can work on finding the matching card and counting to two. My daughter is very proud of being able to count to two and loves counting cards.
Playing with physical game pieces is more beneficial than playing an electronic matching game. Picking up the cards requires manual dexterity and fine motor control. Picking up small cards can be surprisingly difficult.
Manual dexterity and fine motor skills are important. Unfortunately, they’re frequently neglected. Children are increasingly starting school with poor fine motor skills because of using so many screens instead of classic, physical toys.
The mirror image matching and shadow matching cards provide additional challenges and benefits.
Shadow matching activities can help your child improve their visual discrimination skills and attention to detail. They have to rely on the object’s shape, not colors, to make a match. These skills translate to an improved ability to differentiate between letters and numbers. Yes – playing a simple game like this one can improve your child’s literacy and math skills!
How to print and use matching cards
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These cards feature lovely digital watercolor clipart with a Louisiana Mardi Gras theme including an alligator, beads, a King’s cake, a mask, a hat, a crown, fleur-de-lis, and a green feather. The classic Mardi Gras colors of green, gold, and purple are all represented.
Printing and using these cards is quick and easy. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Your free printables! (See below for download links)
- Paper or cardstock. 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 pouches (optional, but highly recommended)
- Paper cutter or scissors
First, download your printables from further down the post.
Next, print the pages you want. 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 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. These garden matching cards are shown in the image below, but the process is the same.
Play and enjoy! 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 also remove some of the pairs to make the memory version of the game easier for younger children.
The mirror image match and shadow matching cards can be used in the same manner as the “regular” cards.
Free printable Mardi Gras matching game download
Alright, let’s get to the free printables!
Like all 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, etc. Basically, as long as you are personally organizing the activity, it’s fine to use these.
You are not licensed to redistribute the printouts or digital files to others. Just send your friends or coworkers to this post so they can download their own copies!
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: