One of my fondest memories growing up was going to my grandma’s house every Christmas to make gingerbread cookies. A secret recipe, of course. Which took me more than a few years to obtain. The entire family would gather to decorate all the cookies. And with an extended family like ours, we weren’t making just a couple cookies. Such awesome memories!
I’m so glad to pass down the gingerbread cookie love to my kids. And since I just love a good preschool theme, I couldn’t resist when I saw these adorable gingerbread faces! This free printable gingerbread emotions matching game for preschool is the first in a series of exciting gingerbread themed Christmas games for preschool.
My youngest daughter has special needs and has been working at the preschool level for a few years, so I am always trying to come up with new ways to approach skills.
Teaching Preschoolers about Emotions
One skill that we have been working on lately is identifying emotions.
As adults, we can forget the preschoolers often don’t have the words to express the emotion that they are feeling.
Like tonight, as my daughter clung to me at every turn. She didn’t want to let go of me. She didn’t want to stop talking to me. And if I didn’t know why she was doing it that could have gotten very frustrating as she tried to follow me into the bathroom…
She just didn’t have the words to express that she was feeling nervous because we had a small snowstorm last night, so school was delayed this morning, that set her off her normal school schedule, she had a substitute para (who, thankfully, she does know quite well), and my husband is out of town for the week and she misses him.
She didn’t know what to do with all those big feelings.
Emotions Matching Game for Preschoolers
Using games, like this free printable emotions matching game for preschoolers, with fun themes like gingerbread cookies, is a great way to teach preschoolers about the names of emotions.
Playing memory with preschoolers with an emotions theme is also a great opportunity to talk about what those emotions mean to us. Children learn through play and simple games like memory are perfect for preschool and kindergarten.
When it comes to learning about feelings and emotions, it’s not enough to identify “I feel scared.”
What does being scared look like? What does it feel like? When would a preschooler feel scared?
Playing games with preschoolers is a great low-pressure environment to talk about those emotions and the causes of those emotions. (There is a reason why Play Therapy is used with kids…)
Talking to Preschoolers about Big Emotions
While there is definitely a time for direct instruction about emotions, this game is meant to provide a safe environment to talk about big emotions without making the focus all about those emotions.
Simply, play the memory game and see where the conversation takes you.
How to Use the Free Printable Gingerbread Emotions Matching Game
My favorite tip for preparing a printable matching game for children is to use scrapbook paper to print the game.
I often grab packs of scrapbook paper at the craft store when they are on sale or when I have a coupon. That way they are not a lot more expensive than regular white paper.
And it makes the game so much more engaging!!
Plus, then the dear, sweet, innocent preschoolers…
Can’t cheat by looking through cards.
Tell me I’m not the only one who has kids that do that.
How to play the Gingerbread Emotions Memory Game
In case you haven’t played memory before (I know there are some of you who probably haven’t) I’ll run through the instructions.
Place all of the emotion cards face down in a grid on the table or floor.
Then, take turns flipping over two cards at a time to find the matching pairs. If you find a pair, you get to keep it.
Continue with the game until all the matches have been made. The person with the most matches, wins!
Building Visual Memory
This is a great way to build visual memory skills with preschoolers. But if you are working with young children or children with special needs, like my daughter, you might want to start with just a few pairs rather than using all the emotion playing cards at one time.
Or even start with the cards face up and have the child simply match the gingerbread emotions cards together. This takes away the stress of having to wait for their turn to play and the frustration of not being able to remember where the matching cards are hiding.
However, you want to play, this free printable Gingerbread Emotions matching game is a great addition to your Christmas lesson plans for preschool.
Extend Your Preschool Gingerbread Theme
While you’re at it, grab some of our favorite Gingerbread themed books to extend your gingerbread theme even more.