Memory Games

We all played memory games as children. There is a reason games like this get passed down the generations: they help to fine-tune focus and attention to detail, as well as honing memory, of course.

Title: Enhancing Preschoolers’ Memory: Fun Games and Activities

Children’s brains, akin to sponges, have an extraordinary capacity to absorb and learn. Particularly in preschoolers, memory plays a pivotal role in their learning and development. To support this crucial aspect of their growth, memory games offer an engaging and fun-filled way of enhancing their memory skills. But before we dive into the games, let’s understand the different types of memory.

What are the different types of memory?

Memory can be broadly classified into four types: sensory, short-term , working and long-term memory. Each type of memory varies in terms of duration, capacity, and the way information is stored and retrieved.

Sensory memory: This is the most immediate form of memory, holding an exact copy of what is seen or heard for just a few seconds after the perception of an item. It acts as a buffer for stimuli received through the senses.

Short-term memory (STM): Short-term memory is often thought of as the conscious mind. It is a system for temporarily storing and managing information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. STM is limited in capacity (can hold about 7 items) and duration (lasts about 20-30 seconds without rehearsal).

Working memory: Working memory, a part of short-term memory, is where we hold and manipulate information in our minds. It’s the mental workbench where we can store information temporarily while performing a task. Working memory plays a crucial role in activities such as problem-solving, decision-making, and learning.

Long-term memory (LTM): Long-term memory is our brain’s system for storing, managing, and retrieving information. Unlike short-term memory, which has a limited capacity and can only maintain information for a matter of seconds, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely. 

Improving Your Child’s Working Memory

Working memory is a fundamental cognitive skill, forming the basis for learning. Here are a few tips on how you can help your child improve their working memory:

Chunking: This method involves breaking down complex information into smaller, manageable ‘chunks’. For example, a long number can be remembered more easily by dividing it into smaller groups.

Repetition: Regular repetition aids in embedding information in the memory. It can be used in everyday activities, such as singing the same song or repeating the sequence of daily tasks.

Visuals and Stories: Children tend to remember visual information and stories more easily. Use colourful images, diagrams, or create a story around the information to make it more memorable.

Make Connections: Link new information with something familiar to your child. For example, if your child is learning about animals, connect each animal with a favourite toy or a visit to a zoo.

Memory games

Kim’s game

In Rudyard Kipling’s novel, “Kim”, the eponymous hero is trained in espionage, including a memory game that came to be known as “Kim’s Game.”

In the novel, Kim’s trainer spreads jewels, trinkets, and other objects on a tray. Kim gets a brief look before the items are covered. He then has to describe all the items he saw, in as much detail as he can remember.

The game was adopted by the scouting movement to help develop observation and recall skills. It’s still widely used today in many settings, from childhood education to military training, as a method for improving memory and attention to detail.

  1. Put several objects on a tray. Start with four or five.
  2. Show the tray to the players and give them a few seconds to memorise its contents.
  3. Cover the tray with a tea towel and secretly remove one object.
  4. Remove the towel. Can the players identify the missing piece?
  5. Repeat, adding one more object to the collection each time for increased difficulty.

Matching pairs

You can buy a matching pairs game, but it’s easy enough to use playing cards or make your own.

  1. Place the cards face-down on the table.
  2. The first player turns two cards. If they match, she keeps them.
  3. If there is no matching pair, turn the cards back over. Try to remember their positions.
  4. Player two then takes a turn, using her memory of what the previous cards were

The Colour Chain Game

Similar to “I went to the shops…”, this game uses colours instead. Take turns to add a colour to the sequence, but each player must first list all the previously mentioned colours. This game helps improve sequential memory.

What’s in the bag?

Place several objects in a bag. Each player pulls an item out of the bag and names it. Then, all items are put back in the bag. The challenge is to remember as many items as possible. This game can be made more complex by adding more items or categorising the objects (e.g., kitchen items, toys).

The story game

Start a story with a simple sentence, e.g., “Once upon a time, there was a little boy.” The next player repeats the sentence and adds their own. Each player must remember the entire story in the correct order. This is great for enhancing narrative memory.

Music and dance

Incorporating music and dance can also be a fun way to improve memory. Learning song lyrics or dance steps involves repetition, which is key to memory development.

Final word

Improving memory in preschoolers is not merely about structured learning. A combination of fun games, active play, and creative activities like music and dance can make the learning process engaging and effective. These memory-boosting activities prepare them better for the learning journey ahead, fostering a strong foundation for their cognitive development.

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