Family Activities

13 Games That Boost Kids' Essential Memory Skills

Simple games and everyday activities can have a big impact.

By Lee Scott on January 27th, 2017

Little girl playing memory game with cards
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I love classic games like Go Fish and Telephone. As a child, my sister, cousins, and I would sit on the beach in the summertime and play them until dark. My favorite game was called I Packed My Suitcase. We would come up with crazy things to put in the case and laughed when we would forget what the last person had said. Little did I know back then that we were boosting our working memory skills.

Working memory is one of the essential skills within Executive Function. In her book, Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky defines these skills as "using our memory to keep a number of different things in mind at the same time while paying attention, thinking flexibly, and inhibiting our tendency to go on automatic pilot." These skills begin to develop at an early stage in life and are as important as learning letters, sounds, shapes, colors, and numbers. Research has shown that it can be a predictor of future academic achievement.

You can help develop your child's working memory through games and everyday activities. Ask your child to help you find three things from the shopping list when you are in the grocery store. When cooking in the kitchen, ask your child the steps for making a favorite dish or something as simple as a sandwich. You can also sing favorite songs together while riding in the car. All of these fun and easy activities will boost memory skills. Want to keep playing? We selected five of our favorite classic, board, and digital games for you and your child to enjoy:

Classic Games

1. Under the Cups
As your child watches, place one bean under one of three cups. Move the cups around. Can your child remember where the bean is?

2. Simon Says
A classic game where one player is Simon and give directions to the others. If Simon does not say "Simon says,"no one should do the task. Can your children remember to listen for "Simon Says?"

3. I Packed My Suitcase
The first player says what he packed in his suitcase. Each person takes a turn adding one item to the suitcase and repeats all the previous items. Can you remember all of them?

4. Telephone
This game is fun for the whole family, where one person whispers a message to the person next to him, and then that person whispers it to the next person, etc. The last person states what was said. Is the final message the same as the original message?

5. Twenty Questions
One player thinks of an object and the other players ask questions that can be answered only with "yes" or "no." The objective is to remember the clues and guess the object.

Board Games

6. Sequence for Kids
An easy sequence game for children ages 4 to 7. Teaches counting and sequence following to help build memory skills.

7. Concentration
Playing cards are placed face down on a table. Children take turns flipping them over, two at a time, as they try to match pairs. Now, where was the three again?

8. Original Memory Game
Similar to Concentration where children match picture cards and the player with the most matches wins.

9. Classic Simon
An electronic game that plays flashing light sequences. The sequence grows longer each time you repeat the pattern correctly. Can your child remember the pattern?

Apps

10. Curious World
This award-winning app includes numerous educational games that help children build memory skills, such as Curious George: Animal Match.

11. Preschool Memory Match
Based on Concentration with many versions to keep a child engaged.

12. AniMatch Played like Concentration while building vocabulary, and learning about animals and the sounds they make.

13. Easy Music
Teaches kids musical concepts through animation, memory challenges, and rhythm games.

Share with us on Facebook how you and your child work on memory skills throughout the day!

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Executive FunctionWorking MemoryLearning GamesCurious George

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