Here’s an easy, fun, and educational activity for an indoor play day — make a giant game of “Memory”!
What you need:
- Painter’s Tape
- Single Sheets of Paper (the bigger the better!)
- Crayons and Markers
What you do:
- Tape out a matrix on your floor (using easy-to-remove, no-residue painter’s tape) with grids large enough to hold each piece of paper (tip: try laying the papers down first, then taping the correct size around them!)
- Print out (or make your own!) double-sets of images. Try two snails, two basketballs, two letter “F’s”… etc, and scatter them face-down in your matrix.
- Play Memory! Have your child flip over individual pieces of paper and try to find the matching images. To start, leave the pictures face-up after they’ve been flipped, so your child can use a trial-and-error process to find the correct picture. Help them out, and if another match comes along while you’re looking for a different one, make sure to point it out, and take both pictures off the grid to show success! After your child has mastered this portion of the game, make sure to flip images back over if they are not the right match. Did you flip a “Gorilla” first, but the next picture you picked was of a rhino? Flip both images back over, and try again!
What it does:
Playing Memory is great for developing a lot of different skills — first, of course, is your child’s “short-term” memory; remembering where an image is that they’ve already looked at, and being able to match it to another similar image. It also helps with goal-oriented tasks — being able to hold a single goal in mind and work towards it. At the same time, as your child gets better at the game, they will be able to hold several objects in their mind at a time and remember the locations of more and more images simultaneously, increasing their “working memory”. This game also develops our childrens’ “spatial awareness”, as well as “phonemic and letter awareness”. When we see or hear different letters and words with visual pictures attached to them, it helps cement these concepts in our brains. On top of all that, because we’re playing on such a large scale and in such a big space, it’s also increasing our gross motor skills, like bending and jumping and moving around from one side of the grid to another.
- 16-24 month-olds will require simple and identical pictures to start with, so make sure the images don’t have more than one focal point in them, and that it’s match is exactly the same image
- Use images of objects and things that your child is already fond of, to keep them engaged. Are they crazy about bugs? Love the characters from a certain book or movie? Use those! Then try mixing in some images of things you and your child don’t see every day. An exotic animal? Interesting Fruit?
- Try including one or two letters from your child’s name into the pairs as well (two A’s for “Adam” or two J’s for “Jillian”, for example).
- Children ages 2-3 can start playing with “concept” matches — Pair a lower case letter with it’s upper case version to make a set, or a baby animal with it’s parent. Or try matching an animal with the food it might eat: Monkey and Banana = 1 set.
- Print out black and white sets of images so your child can colour them in. Learning how to hold writing tools is an important pre-literacy skill!
- You can also start playing with “emotion” images — find close-up photographs of people’s faces who are laughing, crying, yelling, smiling, etc. Being able to correctly identify the way people are feeling will increase your child’s emotional maturity and ability to empathize.
- 4 and 5 year-olds love a good challenge. Try using more complicated concepts like colours — “I need two papers that make the colour Orange” (Red and Yellow = 1 set), or increasing the size of the matrix so there are even more pairs available.
- Give your child enough blank pieces of paper to create their own pairs — allow them to colour or draw their own matching sets! And if they want to hide them for YOU, enjoy their creativity and the exercise it will give your own brain!