0-5 years. Different activities are more appropriate for different ages. For example babies may enjoy simply looking and pointing at the cards, while toddlers and pre-schoolers will enjoy developing their skills playing the memory and sorting games.
Duration of activity
Most of these games can be played in just a few minutes, but you can have hours of fun playing all the different games.
- Fruit and vegetable flashcards and labels (printable versions below). Some of the games listed here require multiple copies of the fruit and vegetable flashcards.
- If you would like to use the flashcards to teach your child the names of fruits and vegetables in another language, you will need to print out the labels in different languages. (printable versions below).
- Materials for laminating the flashcards (optional)
This activity will cost just a few dollars to prepare at home if you have a printer and laminator.
- Print the flashcards and labels (remember you will need two copies of the flashcards for some games).
- Laminate the flashcards and labels- this is optional but they will last longer if you laminate them.
- Cut out the flashcards.
What to do
Naming fruits and vegetables
- You will need one set of fruit and vegetable flashcards to play this game.
- Take all the flashcards and sit down with your child.
- Hold up a flashcard and ask your child to name the fruit or vegetable. You could get them to say the name in English or another language if you are teaching your child multiple languages.
- When they have said the correct name, show them another flashcard.
- Repeat until you have used all the flashcards.
- Older children may enjoy this game more if you make it a role play where they are the teacher and you are the child. They hold the flashcards up and you answer the questions, allowing your child to correct you when you say the wrong name.
- Babies may enjoy this game if you put the flashcards on the ground with the pictures facing up and allow them to crawl around and point at the different fruits and vegetables, while you say the correct name for them. Use just a few cards, starting with fruits and vegetables that they are already familiar with. Increase the number of cards gradually as your baby grows up and starts to say the names of the fruits and vegetables.
- Whatever your child’s age, talk to them about the characteristics of the fruit and vegetables, for example the size, shape, colour and taste. You could also talk about the inside and outside of the fruit, for example whether there are seeds inside and the texture of the skin. For younger children use simple words to describe the fruits and vegetables, and characteristics such as their colour, quantity or size for example big or small. For older children use more complex language, for example long or short, thin or thick to describe the characteristics of the fruits and vegetables. You could also introduce concepts of quantity like whole, half and quarter. Use these games as an opportunity to introduce commonly used terms, for example a bunch of grapes, a hand of bananas, a head of broccoli, a pod of peas or a mandarin segment.
Matching fruit and vegetable pictures (toddlers and pre-schoolers)
- You will need two copies of the fruit and vegetable flashcards to play this game.
- Place the flashcards on the floor with the pictures facing up. For older children use all the flashcards. For toddlers and younger children, select just a few, starting with the ones they already know.
- Explain to your child that they need to find two cards which have the same fruit or vegetable and put them together side by side.
- Ask them to start by matching one of the fruits of vegetables.
- Continue until they have matched all the cards.
- Talk to them as they go about the characteristics of the fruits. They will be able to see what the fruits and vegetables look like on the flashcards, but you could also talk about how they taste, smell and feel, so your child explores a range of senses.
Matching fruit and vegetable pictures (babies and toddlers)
- You will need two copies of the fruit and vegetable flashcards to play this game.
- Place one of each of the matching flashcard pairs face up on the floor. For babies use 3-4 different flashcards, not the whole set. For toddlers use a larger set of cards and eventually the entire set.
- Keep the other flashcard in a pile in your hand.
- Give your baby the first flashcard from your hand and ask them to find the flashcard on the ground that is the same.
- Babies may begin playing this game by randomly picking up cards and guessing that they match. As they grow up, help them work out how to find it using a logical system, for example starting by matching the colour and then the shape, rather than randomly skimming and guessing, to develop their problem solving skills.
Matching fruit and vegetable flashcards with real fruits and vegetables
- You will need a set of fruit and vegetable flashcards and a variety of real fruits and vegetables to play this game. You could also use wooden or plastic fruits and vegetables if your child has these in their toy box. Only use the flashcards for which you have real fruit your child can play with (e.g. if you don’t have an avocado, put the avocado flashcard aside).
- Lay the flashcards on the floor facing up so that your child can see the picture.
- Give your child a bowl containing all the different fruits and vegetables pictured in the flashcards.
- Explain that you would like your child to put the same piece of fruit onto the flashcards on the floor.
- Ask your child to pick the first piece of fruit or vegetable from the bowl and place it on top of the corresponding flash card.
- Repeat until all the fruits and vegetables have been matched to their correct flashcard.
- As you play, talk to your child about the fruits and vegetables, for example the characteristics of different ones, and how the real fruits and vegetables are the same or different from the printed ones.
Matching fruit and vegetable pictures to their names
- You will need one set of fruit and vegetable flashcards and one set of labels to play this game. If your child is still learning the fruits and vegetables, you may want to use only the flashcards with more popular fruit and vegetables that they are familiar with, then gradually add new ones each time you play.
- Place all the fruit and vegetable flashcards and labels on the ground with the pictures and words facing up so your child can see them.
- Explain to your child that you want them to match the picture with the correct words.
- Ask them to choice the first fruit or vegetable to match and find the corresponding word.
- Once they have picked up a matching pair, ask them to place the cards on the floor next to each other.
- Repeat until all the fruits and vegetables have been matched to the correct label.
- As your child does the matching, help them to remember the names of fruits and vegetables they are still learning. While they are finding the labels, help them to read by identifying the letters and sounding out the words.
- To further reinforce their learning and help them become familiar with a wide range of healthy fruits and vegetables, take the picture flashcards with you next time you go shopping for fruit and vegetables (or take a weekend outing to a growers market). Give your child the flashcards one at a time and ask them to find the real piece of fruit or vegetable. Buy one so that they can feel, taste and smell it.
- If there is a community garden in your area, taking the flashcards to the garden is also a great learning experience as your child will see where their fruits and vegetables come from, and learn for example that some grow on vines or trees while others grow underground.
Fruit and vegetable memory game (toddlers and pre-schoolers)
- To play this game use two sets of fruit and vegetable flashcards (for younger children who do not yet know the words) or one set of fruit and vegetable flashcards and one set of labels.
- Place all the flashcards and/or labels facing down so the pictures and words cannot be seen. For toddlers use just a few pairs of picture cards and gradually increase the number as their memory skills develop. For example start with three fruits and vegetables and increase to five, then ten as they learn to play the game. For older children use the labels so this game provides opportunities for them to develop their literacy skills as well.
- Tell your child that there are matching cards for each fruit and vegetable (either two pictures or a picture and a label).
- Explain that their task is to find all the matching fruits and vegetables but that they will only be allowed to turn over two cards at a time. Tell them they will have to remember where the different cards are so that they can match them.
- Ask them to start by turning over two cards and looking at the pictures and/or words. Talk about the characteristics of the fruits or vegetables and/or sound out the words on the labels.
- If your child finds a matching pair, instruct them to remove the two cards from the game and put them aside. If the pair does not match instruct your child to turn them back over so the pictures are hidden. Tell your child that they must try and remember where the cards are so that they will be able to match them when they find the matching card.
- Repeat until your child has matched all the fruit and vegetables.
Fruit and vegetable memory game (babies and toddlers)
- To play this game use two sets of fruit and vegetable flashcards.
- Place one of each of the flashcards facing down on the floor. Make a pile of the matching flashcards.
- Tell your child that each card in the pile has a matching card on the floor and their jobs is to turn over the cards on the floor to find all the matching cards.
- Give them the first card from the pile and explain to them that they have to try and find the matching card on the floor, but they can only turn over one card.
- Let them choose one card and turn it over. If it matches, give them the card from the pile so that they can put the pair aside. If it doesn’t match, tell them to remember where the card is, so that they can find it later when the matching card comes up in the pile.
- Put the card on the bottom of the pile and take the next one from the top. Repeat until your child finds all the matching pairs of fruits and vegetables.
Fruit and vegetable sorting game
- You will need one set of fruit and vegetable flashcards to play this game.
- Place the flashcards on the ground with the pictures facing up so that your child can see them.
- Tell your child that this game involves putting the fruits and vegetables into groups. Their jobs is to find all the different fruits and vegetables that are the same and group them together. You can play this game numerous times using different features to group the fruits and vegetables. For example you could group based on:
- Child’s preference (e.g. ones they like or dislike)
- How they grow (e.g. root vegetables, fruits that grow on trees)
- Starting with the same letter (e.g. carrots and cabbage)
- How they are eaten (e.g. cooked/uncooked/either cooked or uncooked, whole or cut into pieces)
- Just about anything else you or your child would like to.
- Ask them to start by making the first group- you could tell them the groups you would like them to make or let them decide and tell you what groups they are making.
- Repeat until all the fruits and vegetables are grouped.
Growers market role play
- Take all the fruits and vegetable flashcards and explain to your child that today your will pretend they are real fruits and vegetables that are being sold at a market.
- If you have a small table or bench you could use this to display the fruits and vegetables for sale.
- For older children you could also use paper to make price tags which sit near each fruit or vegetable and show how much they cost.
- You could also use play money if your child has some in their toy box, or make play money by cutting up paper.
- Let your child choose whether they would like to buy or sell the vegetables first. When they have finished playing that role, swap roles so that they get a chance to pretend to be the buyer and the seller and understand the different things each person does.
- Pretend to buy and sell the vegetables. Start by greeting each other and making small talk that might happen at a fruit market, for example talking about the weather or asking about each other’s families.
- Then talk about the fruits and vegetables, for example the buyer could say, ‘your tomatoes are big and red. I would like to buy some of those to put in my salad.’ Use this as an opportunity to teach your child about quantity, for example by saying things like, ‘I’ll have three bananas please,’ ‘could you please weigh me half a kilogram of potatoes,’ or ‘it doesn’t look like enough, could you add a few more apples please?
- The seller could help the buyer decide what to buy, for example recommending something that is in season.
- When the buyer has decided on the different things they want to buy, the seller prepares them, for example putting them in a bag or box, and tells the seller the price.
- Exchange the money. To help your child learn more, the buyer could say things like, ‘I don’t have the correct amount. Do you have any change?’ and the seller would then have to give change.
- When the buying and selling is complete, don’t forget to say goodbye so that your child also learns about the rules of conversation and being polite to other people.
- As you perform the role play, be conscious about using body language to communicate with your child. For example use gestures (e.g. point at the fruit or vegetable you want to buy) and facial expressions (e.g. look disappointed as you say, “I don’t have enough to buy a kilo of tomatoes. Could you please give me just half a kilo?”).
- Talk to your child about the characteristics of the fruits and vegetables and what they know about them as you play these games.
- Use these games as an opportunity to discuss the importance of healthy eating with children. Depending on your child’s age you might like to talk with them about how much fruit and vegetables children and adults should eat or what the different fruits and vegetables do for the body (e.g. potatoes give energy, carrots and other orange fruits and vegetables help keep the eyes healthy).
- Pick and choose activities that are appropriate for your child’s age and abilities and simplify if they find it too hard and are losing interest, or add extra requirements if they need challenging.
- For older children, play the matching games using a piece of string. Make two lines with the flashcards, labels and/or fruits and vegetables you want your child to match. Give them a piece of string and ask them to use the string to join the matching fruits in each line (similar to the way they would draw a line between matching objects on a worksheet). Repeat for each fruit or vegetable.
- Another way to play this game with string is to attach a piece of string to each flashcard in one of the lines, for example with a piece of sticky tape. Tell your child use the string to make a line to each matching card in the other line. When they have matched the cards give them a second piece of sticky tape to fasten it there. If you have different coloured strings use them so it is easier to see where each string line goes.
- Or you could place the flashcards over a sheet of butcher’s paper or a magnetic chalkboard, and ask your child to draw lines to match them using a pencil or chalk.
- If you have fruits and vegetables growing in your garden take the flashcards and labels outside and place them near the same fruits and vegetables in the garden.
The fruit and vegetable flashcards are a great way to develop your child’s mathematical skills. Matching one card with another teaches your child about one to one correspondence (that each card matches to only one other). You could also incorporate counting into these games. For example asking your child to count how many cards they have matched and how many they still need to match, or count the pieces of fruit on each of the cards. Start with the cards that have just a few pieces of fruit or vegetable and increase as your child’s counting skills develop. Using the pairs of flashcards also provides an opportunity to teach children to count in multiples of two (2, 4, 6, 8), however this is something children usually learn in the early years of primary school. If your child loves maths they might enjoy learning to count in two’s, but don’t worry if it’s too difficult for your pre-schooler.
Discussing the size of different types of fruits and vegetables and comparing the size of those printed on the cards with real pieces of fruit will help your child understand measurement. You could also talk to your pre-schooler about whole pieces of fruit, halves and quarters, however this is a fairly advanced mathematical concept at this age- most children only start to grasp it in early primary. The sorting games will help them learn about patterns and relationships and to identify the similarities and differences between different types of fruits and vegetables. They’ll also be developing the skills they need to analyse, interpret and organise information, for example when they place different cards in groups.
Fruits and vegetables come in a wonderful variety of shapes which means this game is also perfect for teaching your child about shapes and how they occur in everyday environments. For example, you could discuss the difference between the shape of the flat printed piece of fruit and the real three dimensional piece of fruit with pre-schoolers. For younger children you could compare the shape of the pieces of fruit to various shape flashcards such as an apple or grape being a circle shape. As you talk to your child throughout the activity they will also be developing their mathematical vocabulary, for example using comparative words like big and small.
Persistence and problem solving
Persisting in the face of challenges is an important skill which provides a foundation for children’s future learning. These games provide opportunities for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers to practice persisting. Observing the pictures for brief periods of time or looking at different cards you point to will help babies develop this skill. As they grow up you’ll probably find that they’re able to concentrate for longer periods of time, trying again if they fail the first time and continue trying, even in the face of frustration or distractions. As they solve problems by working out, for example, where is the other banana, they will be developing the skills they need to solve increasingly complex problems independently when they are grown up.
Babies will develop their gross motor skills while crawling around on the floor and attempting to grab the flash cards. For toddlers and pre-schoolers these games will help develop fine motor skills, that is, the ability to use their fingers to manipulate objects. The best way to develop these muscles is to provide children with opportunities to use them to manipulate small objects. Picking up the flashcards from the floor will provide an opportunity for them to use their fingers- at first they may use two hands or their entire hand to try and pick the cards up. Over time their fingers will develop strength and coordination allowing them to pick the cards up using their pincer grip (only the thumb and fore finger). Manipulating pieces of string to join matching cards is also a great way to help children develop their finger muscles.
Language and literacy skills
These games will help your child develop a wide range of language and literacy skills. They will develop their ability to speak and listen as you communicate with them. Babies will probably make gestures (e.g. point) and noises to show they are listening and responding to what you say. Toddlers will probably be able to follow simple, one or two step instructions and pre-schoolers more complex instructions. Speak in clear simple sentence to help them understand and respond when they speak or make gestures to communicate with you.
All of the games you play with the flashcards provide opportunities to help your child learn communication skills, because whatever game you play, you’ll be communicating with them. Although it seems simple, communicating with your child is the best way to help them understand and learn how to do it effectively. They will learn things like the rules that conversations involve (e.g. speaking and listening in turn) and how body language is used to communicate. For example seeing you use facial expressions that communicate emotions and gestures in place of words helps them understand how verbal and non-verbal communication are used together to help another person understand. The market role play game, which requires your child to communicate pretending they are someone else and using their style of communication, is especially good for developing communication skills. It’s also a great opportunity for your child to get creative and experiment with different styles of communication.
The games that use the flashcard labels are a great way to improve your child’s literacy skills, for example to teach them what different letters look and sound like and how to combine them to make words. Help them by pointing to the labels and asking what they say, then if they need help, sounding out the words and pointing out the letters. Children generally develop the ability to recognise letters at about four years of age. Younger children may enjoy pretending to read the labels when they are placed next to the correct fruit or vegetable- even though they are not old enough to read the letters yet, pretending to read introduces important concepts, for example that letters and words can be used to represent things and that words are written from left to write across the page.
Health and well being
Fruit and vegetables are important healthy foods and providing opportunities for children to learn about them provides a foundation for making healthy food choices in the future. Preschool age children will be ready to learn about how different fruits and vegetables do different things to keep their bodies healthy (e.g. that some give energy, others give vitamins which protect the body’s organs).
Pick and choose which flashcards you want – if you want the child to match the fruit/vegetable with the word themselves, pick the separate food and separate word flashcard options.
Download the fruit and names flashcards in:
Download the vegetable and names flashcards in:
Download the fruit names only flashcards in:
Download the vegetable names only flashcards in:
Download the picture only flashcards. If we don’t have flashcards in your language, print the pictures and write the wording in your own language. If this is the case, share your language with us:
- Virginia Early Childhood Development Alignment Program. Milestones of child development- A guide to young children’s learning and development from birth to kindergarten. 2009. (cited 26 July 2013). Available from: (URL Link)
- Queensland Studies Authority. Scope and Sequence- Mathematics- Years 1-9- Number. 2008. (cited 9 March 2014) Available from: (URL Link)