25 Fun & Brain Boosting Ways to Play Memory Games for Kids!

Playing memory games can be a fun way for kids to play and interact with each other. Not only do they serve as an entertaining activity, but memory games can also help to boost cognition and memory retention. While many feel memory games are for pre-school age children, I’m here to let you in on a little secret: it can be just as fun & exciting for older kids (and their parents) to play, too!

In our home, we homeschool with the belief that “learning should be meaningful, memorable, and fun.” Playing a game of memory is just that and more!

The standard game of memory, matching pairs of like cards from a larger collection, is a classic. It’s an easy game to play for friends and family members of all ages simply because it’s been around since the dawn of time.

Well, maybe not that long, but you know what I mean.

Anyways, if you haven’t already, you should totally be including memory games in your homeschool day. Not only are they fun to play, but there are so many educational benefits to playing memory games!

Before we start, bookmark or PIN this article so you can refer back to it! Want a hard copy of this resource? See the form following the 25 different ways to play matching games for kids – I’d love to send you the complete PDF!

The Benefits of Memory Games for Kids

Playing memory games can have such a positive impact on kids of all ages! Just in case you need a few reasons to justify including some memory game play into your homeschool day, let’s chat a bit about a few of the benefits, m’kay?

Memory Skills

One of the key benefits of memory games for kids is enhancing memory retention. Through the process of playing memory games, kids are actively exercising their brains, which helps them retain information more effectively. Memory games encourage kids to focus, concentrate, and remember details, leading to improved memory recall.

Who knows…if the kids play memory games more often maybe they’ll remember to feed the dog without having to be asked? #wishfulthinking

Cognitive Skills

When kids are playing memory games, their brains are working overtime on pattern recognition, eye-hand coordination, logic, and more. Including memory game play on a regular basis can even lead to increased attention spans and improved reading comprehension, too! Such improvements can make a world of difference when it comes to academics and everyday life!

image of memory game playing pieces

Self-Esteem

It’s not always easy to memorize all the “secret” card placements in memory games, so being able to successfully match pairs of text, images, or such can result in a self-esteem boost for so many kids! Having a strong sense of confidence is super important for our kids. We want them to grow into successful, confident human beings and playing memory games is just one way to help with this.

Social Skills

Whether you’re parenting multiple children or have a singleton, you know how important social skills are. And, homeschooled kids really need to work on social skills, ya know? *eye roll*

Playing memory games promotes social interaction, cooperation, and good sportsmanship (something that can be a struggle for many kids…and even adults). When playing matching games, kids learn how to take turns, communicate effectively, problem solve, and more!

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Fun & Engaging Memory Games for Kids

You know that we’re not limited to playing the memory games that can be purchased in stores, right? The standard memory games that often come with cute cartoon characters or animals on the cards are great for the younger kids, but there are so many ways we can incorporate our homeschool unit studies and such into a memory game!

Lucky for you, I’m always working on new resources, including educational memory games, for my homeschooling community!

Ok, let’s get to it. You came for 25 fun & brain boosting ways to play memory games for kids and I’m not about to leave you hanging!

  • Match and Say: Players take turns flipping over two cards. If they match, the player gets to keep the pair and also has to make a sentence using the object or animal depicted on the cards.
  • Memory Relay Race: Divide players into teams. Scatter the cards face down. Players take turns flipping two cards. If they find a match, they keep the pair and the next player on their team takes a turn. The first team to match all the pairs wins.
  • Memory Mix-Up: Lay the cards face down in a grid. Players take turns flipping over two cards to find a match. However, whenever a player fails to make a match, they must switch the positions of two cards of their choice on the grid, making it more challenging for the next player.
  • Memory Chain: Players take turns flipping over two cards to find a match. Once a match is found, the player must name something related to the object or animal depicted on the cards before keeping the pair. The game continues, with each subsequent player needing to name something related to the previous match.
  • Memory Bingo: Each player is given a bingo card with different images from the memory cards. The caller flips over cards one by one. If a player has the flipped card on their bingo card, they mark it. The first player to complete a row or column shouts “Bingo!” and wins.
  • Memory Hunt: Hide the memory cards around a designated area. Players must search for the cards and, when they find one, they must name what’s depicted on it before moving on to find the next one. The player who finds and identifies the most cards wins.
  • Memory Charades: Players take turns flipping over two cards. Instead of simply stating what’s on the card, the player must act out or mime the object or animal depicted to the other players. The other players must guess what it is. If they guess correctly, the player keeps the pair.
  • Memory Storytelling: Players take turns flipping over two cards. When a match is found, the player must incorporate both objects or animals into a short story. The story can be as creative as they want. The player with the most engaging or imaginative story wins.
  • Memory Puzzles: Each memory card is cut into pieces like a puzzle. Players must find matching pairs and then assemble the puzzle pieces together to complete the picture.
memory game
  • Memory Match-Up Relay: Divide players into teams. Place the memory cards at one end of the room and empty containers or buckets at the other end for each team. Players take turns running to the memory cards, flipping two to find a match, and bringing the matching pair back to their team’s container. The first team to collect all the pairs wins.
  • Memory Hot Potato: Players sit in a circle and pass a memory card around while music plays. When the music stops, the player holding the card must quickly name what’s depicted on it. If they’re correct, they keep the card. If not, they’re out. The last player remaining wins.
  • Memory Simon Says: Designate one player as “Simon.” Simon flips over two cards to reveal a match and then performs a simple action related to one of the objects or animals depicted (e.g., hopping like a bunny). The other players must only mimic the action if it’s related to the correct card. If they make a mistake, they’re out.
  • Memory Obstacle Course: Set up an obstacle course with various stations. Each station has a set of memory cards. Players must navigate through the course, flipping over cards at each station to find matches. They can only move on to the next station once they’ve found a match. The fastest player to complete the course wins.
  • Memory Telephone: Players sit in a circle. One player starts by flipping over a card and whispering what’s depicted on it to the player next to them. This continues around the circle until it reaches the last player, who must say aloud what they heard. Often, the final message is hilariously different from the original, leading to lots of laughter.
  • Memory Categories: Before starting the game, decide on several categories (e.g., colors, animals, fruits). Players take turns flipping over two cards to find a match. Once a match is found, the player must name as many items from the agreed-upon category as they can within a set time limit.
  • Memory Freeze Dance: Play music and have players dance around while the cards are scattered face down. When the music stops, everyone must freeze. A designated player then flips over two cards. The player closest to the cards must name what’s depicted on them. If correct, they keep the pair and continue dancing. If incorrect, they’re out until the next round.
  • Memory Scavenger Hunt: Hide the memory cards around a designated area. Each card has a clue written on it that leads to the location of the next card. Players must find each card and solve the clue to progress to the next one. The first player to find all the cards wins.
child excited to be playing a game
  • Memory Auction: Use play money or tokens to simulate an auction. Players take turns bidding on memory cards faced down. Once purchased, they flip the card to see if it matches any they already have. The player with the most pairs at the end of the auction wins.
  • Memory Telephone Charades: Combine elements of Telephone and Charades. Players form a line. The first player flips over a card, whispers what’s depicted on it to the next player, who then acts it out to the following player. This continues until it reaches the last player, who must guess what’s being acted out.
  • Memory Card Tower: Build a tower using memory cards as building blocks. Players take turns flipping over two cards to find a match. Once a match is found, the player can add the cards to the tower. The player who causes the tower to collapse loses.
  • Memory Musical Chairs: Set up chairs in a circle, one fewer than the number of players. As music plays, players walk around the chairs. When the music stops, players rush to sit down. The player left standing flips over a card and must name what’s depicted on it. If correct, they stay in the game. If not, they’re out, and a chair is removed. The game continues until only one player remains.
  • Memory Art Gallery: Set up an area as an “art gallery” with memory cards displayed face up on the walls. Players take turns walking through the gallery, studying the cards. Then, they must recall as many matches as they can from memory. The player with the most correct matches wins.
  • Memory Tic-Tac-Toe: Create a grid using memory cards face down. Players take turns flipping over two cards to find a match. If they find a match, they can place their marker (e.g., a colored token) on that spot in the grid. The first player to get three markers in a row wins.
  • Memory Relay Puzzle: Divide players into teams. Scatter the memory cards face down at one end of the room and an unassembled puzzle at the other end for each team. Players take turns racing to flip over two cards, find a match, and bring it to their team’s puzzle. Once all the pieces are collected, the team must work together to assemble the puzzle. The first team to complete the puzzle wins.
  • Memory Hide and Seek: One player hides a memory card somewhere in the playing area while the other players close their eyes. Once hidden, players open their eyes and search for the card. The player who finds the card must name what’s depicted on it to win a point. Rotate who hides the card after each round.
memory game cover image for opt in that homeschool family

Want to try out each and every one of the 25 different ways to play matching games with kids? Thinking they deserve a spot on the fridge so you can quickly glance at the options when you hear one of the kids say the dreaded “I’m bored” words? I gotchu! Just fill out this form and I’ll send the PDF straight to your email inbox:

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Playing Memory Games

Whether you choose to play memory games as often as a few times a week or once a month, there are definitely many cognitive benefits kids can benefit from. Most games of memory take 30 minutes or less to play, so might as well include some game time into your homeschool schedule, right?

As you’re planning your homeschool activities & lessons, make sure to schedule some time for gameplay. Our friends over at Fun Party Tips have a bunch of free game suggestions you should totally check out, too!

In addition to the cognitive benefits, taking the time to play games with your kids, whether it be a memory game or not, will certainly result in making learning meaningful, memorable, and fun…and that’s why we homeschool! Homeschooling offers us the opportunity to present learning in fun, alternative ways and playing games is just one (of many) ways to achieve this.

One last, awesome, thing about playing memory games with your family: as long as your child(ren) are about pre-school age and above, they can play memory games. Even if you are a parent of multiples with long-ish age gaps…everyone can play together!

So, tell me, what are your favorite, alternative ways to play memory? Leave a comment!

Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family!

- Elizabeth (and the kids. and the husband. even the dog.)

Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.

Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She can also be found in her Facebook Group: That Homeschool Family Hangout.

When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!

Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!

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