Memory games exercise the brain, making it more powerful and alert. Although it's a major organ, it's helpful to think of the brain like a muscle. The more we condition it, the stronger it becomes.
Indeed, the brain can be trained to perform new activities and store added information. It even has the ability to adapt and change. Over time, we can train our brains to store and recall more and more information.
Memory games will not only strengthen the brain, they'll boost attention levels and reading and reasoning skills. The more we practice the act of concentration - which any good brain game requires - the more we "exercise the muscle."
Through memory games, we have the ability to train our brain to be one of the strongest components of our body. Potentially, memory games can even help prevent cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer's from taking root.
Below, you'll find a selection of games that can help children and adults improve their memories.
This memory game can also help build vocabulary and be played at any age. The game begins when someone states a simple sentence, accentuating one word in particular.
For example, "To play baseball, you need a bat."
Then, the next player responds by repeating the word "bat" and adding a rhyming word. For example, he or she might say, "Bat, cat."
The game continues, with players repeating every rhyming word and adding one of their own. The third player will say, "Bat, cat," and then add a word i.e. hat. The fourth player will say, "Bat, cat, hat," and add their own word, and so on.
Of course, it gets harder as more words get added because you have to remember every word spoken. You're going to be "out" if you say a word that's already been used.
This is a good game for the classroom. List a set of words on a large sheet of paper in a particular order. Place that list somewhere everyone can see it, like up on the board. Tell the participants they have to remember the exact order of the words, not the words themselves.
After everyone's been given time to commit the order to memory, cover the list. Then, on a worksheet with blank boxes, ask the students to write down the words in the order they appeared.
To make the game a little easier you can include a word bank either on the board or on the worksheet, in a scrambled order, so participants know which words to choose from.
They'll fill in their worksheets, seeing how much they can remember.
In this game, you place a number of common items on a tray, i.e. keys, a pen, lipstick, a spoon, etc. Next, allow the participants to see the items you've placed on the tray.
Determine the length of time you'd like the participant to study the tray. (Younger children will need longer amounts of time, while older kids and adults can test their abilities with shorter spans of time.)
When the time is up, cover the tray. Have everyone list as many of the items as they can recall - depending on the age group they could call them out, draw pictures or write them down. Those that remember the most items win.
This is a great game to play at home, or when traveling on a plane or train, anywhere there's a tray or table.
You'll need a selection of coins for you and the players. Set out, say, eight coins on a tray. Perhaps you'll put three pennies on the top row, four nickels underneath, and one quarter at the bottom.
Once the arrangement is set up, reveal the order and placement to the players. Give them time to study it and then cover the coins or remove them.
Now, from their own selection of coins the players need to set out the same coins in the same order as they appeared.
Changing up the order of the coins every time, this game could go on forever!
This one's a classic. It's a memory game that tests recall with a long list of items. You start out the game for everyone by saying, "I'm going on vacation and I'm packing my suitcase. I'm taking…"
Then, you select the first items. Perhaps you'll say, "I'm going on vacation and I'm packing my suitcase. I'm taking my toothbrush."
The next person in line must repeat the opening line, your item, and add one of their own. So, they'll say, "I'm going on vacation and I'm packing my suitcase. I'm taking my toothbrush and my pajamas."
Each player will repeat the items already listed and add their own. If a player can't remember an item, or they say the wrong item, they're eliminated.
The remaining players continue until the last man stands.
This game is similar to the memory train. However, it takes on a greater complexity as the game continues.
Players should try to sit in a circle. One participant will start to tell a story with an opening line. They might say, "Once upon a time, there lived a fairy princess with red hair."
The next player must repeat that line verbatim and continue the story. So, the next player might say, "Once upon a time, there lived a fairy princess with red hair. She drove a pink car."
Then, the next player must repeat both sentences verbatim, and add on another.
The story continues to build as you go around the circle. Of course, it will be most difficult for the last person to remember the entire story and repeat it verbatim.
Word lists and flashcards lend themselves well to memory games. The rote-memorization offered by flashcards engages our brains in active recall. Go to YourDictionary's Word Lists & Flash Cards to create your own online flashcards, which you can then use to quiz yourself and others. Make a game show out of it: give points for correct answers and take away points for wrong answers.
Or make a matching game out of flashcards. Print out or hand write (you can use YourDictionary's template) two sets of flashcards. These could be two sets of the same words, so the players must find the pairs, or words that go together in some way like opposites, so players must find the corresponding word. Place the cards face down and have the players take turns to try to find the matches.
We hope you'll have some fun exploring the never-ending depths of your brains. Remember, the more we exercise our brains, the stronger they become. Wouldn't it be great to have lightning-fast recall? And today is just the beginning. Every day we wake up is another opportunity to beef up our proverbial brain muscles.