Montessori at Home: Matching Card Game with Chinese Zodiac Animals

Celebrating the Lunar New Year is a wonderful time to introduce children to the vibrant world of Chinese culture. And what better way to do that than through a hands-on, interactive activity that brings the beloved Chinese zodiac animals to life?

Bringing the Chinese zodiac animals to life for children is a wonderful way to share this fascinating culture and its traditions. 

This matching card game is a simple yet powerful tool for supporting your child’s cognitive development and will help contribute to building a strong foundation for memory, perception, thinking, and attention skills. 

Start your DIY print-and-play matching card game with your child now!

Click the image for our DIY printable


    • Paper or cardstock: Choose sturdy paper or cardstock for your cards. Thicker material will make the game more durable.
    • Printer: You’ll need a printer to print out your card designs.
    • Scissors or paper cutter: For cutting out the cards.
    • Optional: Laminator (for extra durability), glue stick (for attaching backing paper), markers or crayons (for personalizing the cards).
    • Click here to download your House on the Hill Chinese Zodiac Animals Matching Card Game


1. Prepare for the game  

      • Print your cards on your chosen paper or cardstock.
      • Carefully cut out the individual cards using scissors or a paper cutter. 
      • Optional steps:
        • Laminate: Laminating your cards will make them waterproof and more durable, especially if you’ll be playing with young children.
        • Add backing paper: If your cardstock is thin, you can glue a piece of plain paper to the back of each card to make it sturdier.

2. Play the game

There are several ways to play this game:

    • Matching: Shuffle the cards and matching pieces and lay them face down on the table. Players take turns flipping over two cards at a time, trying to find a match. The player with the most matches at the end wins.
    • Memory game: Lay all the cards face down on the table. Players take turns flipping over two cards at a time, trying to remember where the matching card is. The player who finds the most pairs wins.
    • Sorting: Sort the cards and matching pieces into groups based on the animals. This is a good way for younger children to learn the names of the zodiac animals.

Montessori-inspired learning outcomes

By playing the matching card game, your child will learn the following outcomes:

    • Open-ended play: The game can be played in different ways, allowing for different levels of challenge and engagement.
    • Sensorial development: The different textures and materials of the cards and matching pieces can stimulate children’s senses.
    • Concentration and memory: The matching and memory game variations help children develop their concentration and memory skills.
    • Fine motor skills: Cutting, drawing, and manipulating the cards and matching pieces help children develop their fine motor skills.

Additional tips:

    • Bilingual families are encouraged to play in both English and Mandarin
    • Make the game more challenging by adding more than one matching piece per card.
    • For younger children, start with just a few animals and gradually add more as they become familiar with them.

We hope this activity helps you and your little ones explore the captivating world of the Chinese zodiac in a fun and meaningful way! Happy Lunar New Year!