Having a good memory is a great skill to have in life. Every time we count, read, spell or use our times tables we’re calling on knowledge we’ve memorized. There are so many practical applications of using your memory in life too – as you recall your shopping list or cook a meal without a recipe.
Encouraging your child to exercise their brain and develop their memory skills is an important thing we can do with them. Here’s a fun idea for a memory game my daughter came up with to play with her sister, with some added suggestions for other ways to have fun with memory.
Make a memory game
Start by making a set of memory cards. You can base your set on any images you like. My daughter created her set by drawing some animal pictures but you could also create a set using photos of family and friends, numbers, letters, or by using pieces of your children’s paintings or art work.
Whatever images you chose, make several sets of matching pairs: two lions, two tigers, two bears and so on. Keep them all the same shape and size and make between five and fifteen pairs: a fewer number for younger children, more for older ones.
To play the memory game, mix up all your picture pairs and then spread them out face downwards on the table or floor. Take it in turns to flip over two of the cards. If you turn over a matching pair you get to keep them. If your two cards don’t match you have to turn them face down again. Try to remember where each type of image is, so on your next go you can turn over a matching pair. The game is over when all the pairs of images have been matched up and the winner is the person with the most pairs.
Playing this game helps your child to classify images, to remember and recall where each type of card is located and to form a mental map of the layout of the images. Great skills to develop as you play a fun game and practise fair play and turn taking too.
More memory game ideas
Another fun memory game idea is to play ‘what is missing?‘, using a collection of items and seeing who can remember what was there and what’s changed. This is a traditional birthday party game for us and we like to match the set of items we play with to the theme of the party.
You can also make memory games part of your bedtime routine. Each night my 5-year-old asks ‘what did we do today?’ and then we recall and sequence the things that happened. It’s a cozy way to re-cap the day, remembering key events and ordering them. It’s interesting to see what she remembers most clearly and sometimes gives us the opportunity to talk about things that upset her or that she found hard.
We also play memory games when we go out shopping – which are great for keeping kids involved in the errands and learning as we go. We write up our shopping list together and then I give each child a number of items to remember. When we get to the shop it’s their job to remember what was on their metal list and find the items in the store. You can extend this with some math practice if you give them the opportunity to pay for their own special items too.
How do you help your kids exercise their memory?
Share a memory game idea with us in the comments.
Remember to check out these other Quirky Momma posts on memory and matching games too: