Bored of Candy Land and Scrabble? It's time to choose a matching game for family game night! The most well-known matching-type game is the classic Memory card game, but we've played a huge variety of games that rely on players to create matches of one type or another.
Not all matching games are also memory games. You'll want to check out our recommendations for the best memory games. However, the games below don't all use cards. Some use blocks, dice, balls, even penguins! You may have to match words, colors, images or patterns. In addition, the games reflect a wide range of ages, so there is the perfect game for every family.
A note on ages. I've included the manufacturer's age recommendations. In most cases, kids younger that the age displayed can still enjoy the game, especially with gentle guidance.
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2-4 players, ages 4+
Find it: Pengaloo at Amazon
Pengoloo is a super cute matching color game with wooden penguins. Each penguin sits atop, hiding, a colored egg. Players must use their memory to recall which color is under each penguin. The first player to find the requisite number of matching pairs, wins. I first introduced Pengoloo to you as a game of the month.
I NEVER FORGET A FACE MEMORY GAME
2-6 players, ages 3+
Memory is the classic matching game that is perfect for honing a child's patience, memory, and visual perception skills! Classic games stick around because they offer a universally enjoyable and satisfying experience. I adore this version of Memory by eeBoo. The sturdy cards feature faces from all around the world, and kids will love to talk about what they see, building global awareness.
2-6 players, ages 4+
Bingo has the unusual good fortune of being a game that young children can play with their older siblings. Originally I thought I'd be bored playing this game with the kids, but it was surprisingly fun, which I suppose is why these classic-type games stand the test of time to become, well… classics! I LOVE these eeBoo versions because of their lovely graphics, often done by well known children's book illustrators like Keven Hawkes and Melissa Sweet.
2-8 players, ages 6+
This very popular game of visual perception is great to have on hand when you are on the go. There are several variations so players don't get bored and children of all ages can participate. Players race to be the first person to spot which cards have the same object. It sounds simple, but it's not as easy as it looks! As this game has increased in popularity, the creator put out new themed versions so there is something for everyone.
2 or more players, ages 8+
Find it: Swish Card Game from Think Fun
Swish consists of a deck of 60 transparent cards, each with hoops or balls of different colors. The object of the game is to create a "Swishes" by stacking two or more cards so that every hoop encircles a ball in a matching color. The challenge of the game is that you must rotate, flip and match the cards in your mind, without touching them. This game requires mental manipulation of images, exercising those spatial reasoning and perception skills.
1-6 players, ages
Find it: Dr. Eureka from Blue Orange Games
Dr. Eureka adds some variety to the typical matching card games! Players race to fill their beakers with colored beads to match the positions shown on challenge cards. Sequencing, visual discrimination, and spatial relationship skills are hard at work as kids manipulate their beakers to transfer the beads back and forth between the test tubes without dropping them. And yes, Dr. Eureka was also a game of the month! Read more about our experience as well as our tips for a successful game time.
MORE: STEM Games for Kids
1-5 players, ages 8+
Find it: Shifting Stones at Amazon
I like Gamewright's Shifting Stones as a game that kids can play but is still challenging for grown-ups. Players all have nine magical stone tiles in front of them. The objective is to score the most points by strategically flipping, shifting and matching the tiles to pattern cards.
2-6 players, ages 8+
Find it: Twin It! by Gamewright
Twin it! features some seriously groovy patterns. It's a fast-paced game and players must muster up an energetic attitude if they are to succeed! Players race to find matching patterns but there's a twist–some of the patterns are deceptively similar. Plus they must guard their matched pairs from being stolen by a saavy opponent.
ONE IN A CHAMELEON
1 player, ages 8+
Find it: One in a Chameleon by Fat Brain Toys
One in a Chameleon is a single player game, but I've included it here because it's not only an excellent brain booster for one, but it's a great learning tool for kids to play alongside an adult to talk about how they use their wits to find matching patterns. There are twelve camouflage pattern cards and 8 magnetic chameleons. Kids must figure out how to match the chameleons to the pattern cards so that the creatures blend into the camouflage.
2 or more players, ages 6+
Find it: Acuity Tile Game
When you want a good looking tile game that even a 6 year old can play during family game night, reach for Acuity. Player aim to match the patterns on these oversized, colorful tiles. Even grown-ups will find that the game puts their mental and visual skills to the test!
THE KORNER'D CHALLENGE
1-6 players. Ages 8+ (I think more like 6+)
Find it: The Korner'd Challenge
True story: I'm not a fan of "cleverly" using the letter K instead of C. However, I will give this game a pass on that because it's flexible enough to be played by one player, as a family competitive, or cooperative game. The game consists of a colorful checkerboard board that reverses to animals, and a set of double sided cards. On one side of the cards are four colored squares, on the other side, four animals. Players must match the cards to the board but there is only one possibility for each card!
2-4 players. Ages 8+
Find it: Q-Bitz by Mindware
What I love about this game is that there are so many ways to play. Players all have a wooden tray and a set of blocks which are patterned on all six sides. The essential element is that during game play, players must figure out how to turn their blocks to match the pattern on the displayed card. The set comes with 80 cards and there are three official versions of how to play, but I bet your kids can come up with more! It also works as a single player game for quiet time.
2-6 players, ages 7+
Find it: Snip Snap dice game from Blue Orange
I'm glad I was able to include a matching dice game on this list because I've always found rolling dice to be such a satisfying way to play a game! Tell me I'm not alone on that. Plus, dice games are great for travel. All players have an individual set of colored dice which display images rather than quantities. After a roll, players race to find matches between their dice and their opponents'. As a fun twist, players call out their matches, "Snake Snap!" "Sock Snap!" "Sun Snap!"
2 players, ages 7+
Find it: Blink Card Game
Blink is a good choice for travel, or for small families because only 2 players can play at a time. Blink bills itself as "the world's fastest game," but then so does Tenzi, so we'll have to have a head-to-head battle on that one. Cards are divided between players, and on the "go!" they race to match cards in their hand to the display cards. Matches can be made by color, shape or quantity.
MORE: Best Games for Small Families (2-4 players)
2-6 players, age range varies depending on game
Your basic dominoes are great for pattern matching and quantity matching! Kids will even practice basic addition and multiplication skills (such as skip counting by 5). Advanced players will enjoy flexing their number recognition and addition skills with a set of double nine dominoes instead of the classic double six. There are many ways to play dominoes; find the basic rules here.
MORE: Favorite Math Games