great memory games

Throughout their school years, children need to store information in long and short-term memory like multiplication tables, letter sounds, periodic tables, and history dates. Memory games for kids are an essential brain exercise that helps improve memory. A memory game gives your kids a brain workout, keeps them busy, and is tons of engaging fun.

We’ve researched a list of free memory games for kids that parents and teachers can use to strengthen the memory skills of toddlers and older children. 

Benefits Of Memory Games For Children

Memory games help kids learn by strengthening their skills of retaining and applying information. A good brain game develops brain functions like concentration, focus, and attention.  

The benefits for memory, including working memory improvement, extend to auditory and visual skills. Memory exercises focus on different aspects and promote better verbal memory, visual memory, visual attention skills, short-term memory, auditory and visual recognition, and conceptualization.

Children of all ages, from preschoolers to college kids, enjoy playing games. Memory games for kids are one of the best alternatives to screen time.

Matching Memory Game: Matching Card Games

Card games for kids are fun recreational activities to spend quality time with family and friends. Matching card games help kids improve their memory skills and inspire exciting challenges. 

What You Need

  • A deck of 52 playing cards
All you need for this memory game is a deck of cards.

How To Play

The object of the memory card game is to collect the most matching pairs of cards. 

  • Shuffle the cards and place all the playing cards face down in four rows of thirteen cards each. Any smooth surface will do, a table or floor. You can include Jokers but make sure the cards are even in number and matching pairs. 
  • Players take turns choosing two cards. The first player turns two cards face up. 
  • If the cards match, the player gets the pair of cards and plays again. A matching pair is cards with the same number and color, for example, the two of diamonds and the two of hearts. 
  • If the cards don’t match, the player returns the cards face-down, which is the next player’s turn. 
  • The secret is to remember where the player saw each card in previous turns and to match it with the first card they turn over.
  • The matching game ends when a player picks the last two cards. The winner of the matching game is the person with the most pairs.

Variations To Memory Matching Games

  • Younger kids may find it easier if the matching game goal is only to match the colors of the cards or the same numbers. Older kids may want to challenge their visual memory skills even more by matching rank and suite. 
  • Kids can play a matching game by matching all the pairs of matching picture cards.

Top Concentration Game: The Magic Cup Game

The Mage Cup Game is one of those fun memory games that brings a bit of carnival into your home using two household items. The game helps with concentration. 

What You Need

  • Three identical paper cups
  • A small rubber ball or coin that fits under the cup

How To Play

The game’s object is to identify the cup that holds the ball. 

  •  Place the three cups upside down in a row with the object under one cup.
  • One player moves the cups back and forth, switching the positions in all directions. Another player watches the movement to keep track of the cup with the object. 
  • When the shuffling stops, the player must identify and show which cup the object is under. 

Variations To Magic Cup Concentration Game

  •  Increase the difficulty level by shuffling the cups faster or adding more cups. For toddlers and young children, you can rearrange the cups slower so that they can follow the movement. 

Physical Excercise Memory Game: Traffic Lights

Traffic Lights is an excellent game for kids to get rid of excess energy and simultaneously improve their memory. It’s perfect for outdoors in the backyard or park and can be adapted for indoor fun, too. 

How To Play

The goal is to hear the command, remember the instruction, and physically act upon it. 

  • Green light means the child must run, amber light means to walk, and the red light means stop. 
  • An adult gives the instructions, and the kids follow them as quickly as they link the abstract instructions to what is physically required. 

Variations To The Memory Game

  • Kids fall out when they follow an instruction incorrectly or take too long to react. Add a prize for the winner that stays in the game the longest. 
  • Add additional instructions for more intricate play. For example, “flat tire” means sitting down, “raining” means waving arm movements like windscreen wipers, and “turn left” or “turn right” means changing direction. 

Remember And Repeat Game: I Went to the Grocery Store, and I Bought…

The grocery story game is an excellent brain training exercise to pay attention, remember what the child hears, and repeat everything. It is a fantastic kids’ memory game to inspire creativity, develop vocabulary, and strengthen aural memory skills. 

How To Play

The game’s object is to remember items purchased at the shop in sequence. The game stimulates kids’ memory in a fun way.

  • The first player starts the memory game by saying, “I went to the grocery store, and I bought some,” and then mentioning an item they would buy at a grocery store, for example, milk.
  • The next player repeats the phrase, the item, and adds the following article to the grocery list: bread. 
  • The third person repeats the phrase and the grocery list items and adds another article.
  • The winner is the last player to remember and repeat the items in sequence correctly. 

Variations To The Game

  • Scenarios. The game adapts to almost any scenario, I went to the moon, and I took…, I went to school, and I took a…, or I went on holiday and packed… The more unique the scenario, the great the creative fun. 
  • Alphabet. Name an object that starts with a letter next in the alphabet. Player one names a relevant thing starting with the letter a, player two a word beginning with the letter b, etc.  
  • Numbers. Numbers Strings is more challenging and perfect for older children. Instead of words, the first person says a one-digit number, the next player repeats the first number and adds another single-digit number, etc. 

Auditory Memory Games: Drum Beats

Listening help children communicate effectively, hear and obey instructions, and develop social skills. The Drum Beats memory game requires kids to listen attentively and promotes improved auditory processing skills. The game is an excellent exercise for recognizing different sounds, a foundational skill in learning to read and write. 

What You Need

  • Set of drums (or pots, pans, and spoons or spatula for drumsticks) for each player

How To Play

The goal is to repeat the rhythm and beats precisely. 

  • Player one plays a rhythm on the drums.
  • The second player sends the same rhythm back to the first player. 
  • Use finger snaps and claps if drums and pots are too noisy.

Variations To The Game

  • Sound Chain Game. Players create a sound chain instead of taking turns in creating a rhythm. Each player has a turn to make 1-2 sounds; the next player repeats the sound, adds two more, and so forth. Players who forget or make mistakes are out; the winner is the last player left.

Paying Attention Memory Games: Simon Says

Simon Says is a classic concentration game for preschoolers ages 3 and up. It’s one of the best memory games for kids to listen carefully, learn to pay attention, remember the rules, and respond in reference to the rules.

How To Play

The game’s object is to successfully follow each instruction preceded by the phrase “Simon Says.”

  •  All the players face the person giving the instructions.
  • The players act out the instructions given, preceded by the words “Simon Says,” and ignore other instructions.
  • Players who make mistakes are out. The remaining player wins.

Working Memory Games: In the River On the Bank

The fun game is one of the best memory games for toddlers and preschoolers to develop strong working memory. In its simplicity, the game requires children to process and access the rules and correctly act on instructions following them.

What You Need

  • Tape or rope to mark the river and bank

How To Play

The memory game’s purpose is to do the opposite of the instructions given.

  • Use the rope or tape to establish the river.
  • The game starts with the players standing on the river bank.
  • Players listen to the instructions and do the opposite. For example, when you say “On the bank,” the player jumps into the river, and with the instructions “Into the river,” the player bounces back onto the bank.
  • Play continues until one player is left.

Matching Memory Games: Pictures Bingo

Picture Bingo is an easier matching memory game for a younger child. Teachers can play games with their students to develop memory skills and vocabulary. The kids’ memory game uses pictures on cards from the natural world a child easily recognizes.

What You Need

  • set of matching picture cards store-bought or DIY printable memory games
  • baseboard, tray, or flat surface area

How To Play

The game’s object is to match the picture card with the same image cards on the baseboard—the first player to match all the pictures on their board win.

  • Each player selects a baseboard.
  • Shuffle the matching cards and spread them out face down.
  • Players take turns in selecting a card.
  • If the card matches a card on the player’s board, the player has a match and continues playing.
  • If the card doesn’t match a card on the board, the player places it back face-down, and their turn is over.

Variations To The Game

  • Older kids can play with a standard deck of cards instead of pictures.
  • Use pictures with matching words to help develop vocabulary and reading skills.

Recall Memory Games: What’s Missing?

What’s Missing is one of the best visual memory games for kids that are easy to set up, inspire hours of fun play, and teaches a child to focus on detail and recall what they saw. Recall memory games are essential for children growing up and functioning in the adult world.

What You Need

  • tray
  • various household objects or small toys
  • towel or cloth to cover the tray

How To Play

The memory game’s goal is to recall all the items correctly on the tray.

  • Place the household objects on the tray and cover them with a towel. Make sure the child doesn’t see the items before the game starts.
  • When the child is ready, remove the cover and give the child 5-10 seconds to observe the items on the tray. The amount of time varies according to age and the number of items.
  • Cover the tray and ask the child to name the objects on the tray.
  • Compare what the child remembers with the actual items.

Variations To Recall Games For Kids

  • Add more items for the next round for a more significant challenge.
  • Instead of naming the objects on the tray, the player needs to identify what is missing. Show the tray with items and cover the tray. Remove one or more things from the tray with your back to the players. Show the tray again and ask the player what is missing.
  • Increase the difficulty level by rearranging the object after you’ve removed some items.

Which memory games for kids is your favorite or do your kids prefer online memory games?

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