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I love playing games with my friends and family. Come to think of it, some of my favorite games growing up were memory games (good going, mom and dad)… and clearly, they worked because I still remember them.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all thrown a child in front of the television, or let them play on our tablets, because we needed to get something done. It doesn’t make us bad parents… it just makes us human.
If you’re feeling a tad guilty, don’t. Today we’re going to offer you 11 ways to boost your child's memory skills and have loads of fun and giggles while doing it! Something that can get the whole family involved or even encourages solo play? All are great options.
In this guide, we’ll go back to basics and look at some fun memory games for kids that aren't too technologically involved. You'll be amazed at how incredible the human brain can be once it has a little exercise.
11 Fun Memory Games Kids
So before I forget (pun intended), let's get our game faces on and take a look at these fun memory games for kids:
1. Once Upon a Time Story Bag
Here's a fun (and simple) memory game that will spark your child's creative side. After all, creativity is driven by memories. When children are creative, they naturally refer back to memories and feelings that help them make up stories (by linking to a past experience) or performing specific tasks.
The Once Upon a Time Story Bag will allow your child's memory and imagination to run wild, and the best part is it's so simple to put together (and you probably have most of the goodies at home):
This game is perfect when traveling or waiting in a doctor's room and you have a kid to entertain. Add more items as you go along and watch the story unfold.
2. Boggle Your Brain
I doubt there's anyone who hasn't heard of the game Boggle. But just in case, it's a memory-boosting word game that children and adults around the world love. Boggle encourages critical and creative thinking by boosting your child's vocabulary.
Players must put words together in sequences of adjacent letters, which teaches kids to spell and memorize new words. Generally, one game lasts around 20 minutes, and in this time, your children should be able to discover around twenty to forty words.
For younger kids, you can get the Boggle Junior game, which introduces the little ones to word and letter recognition, spelling, matching, and memory.
When the brain encodes information into memory, it doesn't like a distraction as it puts you off track and confuses things. In this game, you are going to distract the kiddies deliberately to throw them off.
I'm sure you've seen the cartoons where the character (usually a doggie) focuses on something when they're suddenly distracted and randomly yell out “squirrel.” I like to refer to this as the “squirrel moment.“
In this squirrel memory game, the players take turns drawing from playing deck of cards. They must remember the sequence of the pictures or numbers they draw in order.
The game continues until a player draws a squirrel card (distraction card) and yells, “squirrel.” The player must then make up a random statement (the distraction) such as “I had eggs for breakfast” before repeating the sequence of numbers or pictures in the correct order.
Prepare for giggles and frustration as the game continues. You can use a regular deck of playing cards and highlight the “squirrel” card.
4. Broken Telephone
Listening skills and memory skills go hand in hand. When you pay attention and listen carefully, you can remember things better. But if you listen with half an ear or are easily distracted, your memories will be fragmented.
Broken telephone, also known as “pass the message,” “whisper down the lane,” “whisper,” “Chinese whispers,” “from ear to ear,” or just “telephone,” is a fantastic game to play with your kids if you want to improve their memory (and test their listening skills).
How to play broken telephone:
Did you know? This game's main aim is to teach kids how unreliable gossip is. As a story spreads, things get added or fall away. By the time the message reaches the end of the line, the truth may be completely distorted.
5. General Knowledge
General knowledge quizzes are an excellent way to test and stimulate your kid's brain and memory. Many different versions of this game are available, but I find the good ole paper and pen version works best.
This is how we used to play general knowledge when I was a kid:
- Write down the entire alphabet letters on a piece of paper in different areas. Make sure to fill up the whole page and circle each letter.
- Every kid gets a sheet of plain paper where they draw columns and rows. Each column has a heading, for example, type of fruit, country or place, game, kind of animal, and the name of a song. You can add as many as you like.
- Player one waves a pen over the sheet of paper with the alphabet. Keeping their eyes closed, they put the pen down and see what letter they land on.
- The players have 2 minutes to complete each heading based on the chosen letter. For example, if the letter “E” was chosen, the players need to fill in their sheets, and it could look something like elderberry, England, Earth defense force, elephant, and “Every Breath You Take.”
One strict rule applies when playing general knowledge: No asking Google. Get those brains working.
6. Rummikub and Rummikub Junior
Rummikub is an absolute classic and a hit with my family and friends. This tile-based game is based on the best elements from the popular games Mahjong (or Mahjongg), chess, rummy, and dominoes. When your kids play Rummikub, they strengthen their sequencing memory and math skills (all while having fun).
The aim of the game is to put together sets of three tiles that have the same figure in different colors or sets of three consecutive numbers in the same color. The first player to place all of their tiles on the table wins the game.
If you have younger children (under 7 years old), then Rummikub Junior is an absolute must. It's a much simpler version, and the tiles have kid-friendly symbols, animals, and numbers on them. Playing Rummikub Junior develops their cognitive skills and zones in on strengthening their memory skills and logical reasoning.
7. The Wonky Donkey Memory Song
One of the best (and most effective) ways to develop a child's long-term memory is through repetition. What better way to do this than by teaching them fun songs with repetitive phrases. Adding rhythm and rhyme makes it so much easier to remember.
Learning through music helps kids develop auditory skills and improves their memory. I can recall making up little rhymes to remember information for tests at school, and I can still recite them today.
“The Wonky Donkey”, written by Craig Smith, is by far one of the funniest and most rewarding songs you can teach your kids. Get the whole family involved as the lines get funnier and longer. Challenge your kid's memory as they try to remember the Donkey's wonky features.
If you're anything like me and don't have the greatest singing voice, then download the song and let your kids sing along. We usually end up rolling on the floor with laughter.
8. Match Madness Board Game
If your kids like board games, you must try Match Madness. This board game is fast-paced, and the players need to solve the puzzle by paying attention to the patterned blocks. Making connections between patterns stimulates the brain and helps players think critically and solve problems under pressure.
The players must take turns flipping and rotating cards until they find a match. There are 5 identical patterned blocks that must be completed. You must keep your eyes open and remember where the cards were placed.
There are two ways to play this game. The “need for speed version” is called Quick-Play, and there’s the Total Madness version (highest score wins). You can play in groups of up to 4 players or play solo, which is fun for trying to beat your score.
This game is perfect for the whole family and is the ideal addition to your holiday games.
9. Memo Game App (3+)
If you're looking for a memory game to keep your toddler busy and that you can carry around with you in your pocket, then I've got just the thing. While I don't believe kids should be glued to cell phones or TV screens, technology has its benefits – in reasonable doses.
The Memo Game app is made up of several boards that have different themes, such as food, animals, and vehicles. It's a modern and interactive version of the classic memory game and helps your child develop visual memory skills.
A top feature of this app is its voice recording ability, allowing parents to add sounds and names to images. Your kid will be able to listen to over 100 words in your voice and accent.
A game that's guaranteed to stimulate your kid's brain and activate their memory is Slapjack. This is a fast-paced, hand-eye-coordination memory game where your child has to pay close attention to the cards, so they don't miss the “jack” card and accidentally slap the wrong card.
The game is simple to play, but your concentration levels will need to be sharp:
Your children will laugh as the game progresses, and they start slapping Jack's friends instead of the correct card.
11. Where’s Waldo?
Search and find games are excellent for strengthening your kid's memory. By giving your child an image to study for a few seconds, you are teaching them to pay attention to details (big or small).
The “Where's Waldo” series is a great seek and match book. Let your child study Waldo and save his picture to their memory. Armed with their book and a magnifying glass (because it's way more fun), give them 15 minutes to comb through the scenes to try and find Waldo.
The awesome thing about these books is that they have such detailed and fun scenes, and many of the characters wear the trademark red and white sweater to make things more challenging. Your child must look hard at the images and remember what Waldo is wearing.
Did you know? Your kids can now find Waldo in Google Maps and join him on fascinating adventures as he travels the globe with his friends. Simply ask Google Assistant, “Hey Google, Where's Waldo?” to get started.
Final Thoughts of Fun Memory Games for Kids
Let's face it; children (and adults) are so distracted by remote control cars, television, and cell phones that our memory function is deteriorating. The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised, and staring at the television for hours on end is not giving our kids the proper stimulation they need.
Sure, we learn a lot from the internet and streaming channels, but the information comes very easily… so much so that we are bombarded with information 24/7. As a result, a lot of kids today can't focus for long periods of time or remember simple facts.
Life is a rat race, and we can sometimes get caught up in it. So take time to slow down and play games with your little ones. Connect with them, and help them grow. These memory games will improve your child's brain function, while making new and fun memories together.
If you enjoyed these memory games kids and want to try out some other games, check out our guide on the 4 best mindfulness games for kids. And if you'd like to play some games yourself, why not check out our guide on the 11 memory games for adults to train your brain?
Finally, if you want to level up your parenting skills, then check out this resource that will show you how to get your kids to listen WITHOUT yelling, nagging, or losing control.
Let the games begin!