Memory Games:
The Fun Way to
Exercise your Mind!

Memory games are an effective way to exercise your memory because, as Ralph Smedley said, “We learn best in moments of enjoyment!”

The following games are only a small sample of all the possible games that can improve your memory. Some of them can be done individually, while others involve the participation of a group.

Individual Memory Games

The Game of Pairs

Also known as “Game of concentration,” this game can be played alone or with a partner. I used to think it was only done on computer – because I had seen so many electronic applications – , until I realized you can do it with a simple deck of playing cards.

From a deck of cards, get 15 matching pairs for a total of 30 cards. Mix them up and arrange them, face down, in 5 rows of 6 cards. Turn over 2 cards at a time; if they make a pair remove them; if not, turn them back and try again. The purpose of the game is to remember the location of similar cards and pick up as many pairs as possible.

If you are playing in turn with a partner, the winner is the one with the most cards at the end of the game.

The Phone Number

Using the technique presented in Memory Exercises for remembering numbers, look up a phone number – preferably one that is useful to you – and memorize it.

Test yourself 5 minutes later, one hour later, 6 hours later, 2 days later. Can you still remember it? Out of all the memory games, this is probably one of the most useful ones!


When you have to wait in traffic, at the doctor’s office or at a cash register, limber up your memory by thinking of as many words as possible beginning with a particular letter, then work your way through the whole alphabet. If you want to be more specific, focus your listings one countries, politicians, capital cities, actors, animals, fruit, scientists, trees, rivers, or anything that tickles your fancy!

This game can also be played as a group and in writing.

Group Memory Games

The Sentence

Each person in turn adds a word to a sentence that is gradually created after repeating the previous words. For instance, Player 1 says “Today”; Player 2 says “Today people”; Player 3 says “Today people believe”, and so on until the sentence is so long that no one in the group can remember it completely!

The Grocery List

This game, similar to The Sentence, consists of a grocery list, starting with the words: “I went to the store and bought…” Each time the complete list must be repeated and a new item is added at the end. Complicated items, such as “352 grams of red lentils”, make the game more challenging hence more entertaining!

Picture Description

Player 1 looks at a picture and, after the picture has been taken away, describes it to Player 2. Player 2, who hasn’t seen the picture, describes it to Player 3. Player 3 then describes it back to Player 1. You can add more players if you want to. Memory games of this type done in front of a group can be very amusing. Of course, all subsequent players after Player 1 can only hear the one specific description presented to them.

The picture should have enough elements to make it interesting, such as the image found with the Memory Technique article. You may want to practice with this image.

Who is Missing?

This game works better with a relatively large group (more than 15 people).

The Player leaves the room. Meanwhile, one or two group members hide. Upon returning, the Player has to name who is missing.

What has Changed?

The group is first being asked to look around a room and remember where everything is located. When all members have left the room, the game leader changes the location of various objects and makes a list of what has changed.

When the group is back, each person must write down what has changed, and lists can then be compared or marked.

The game can also be done by changing something on one or more people, such as hair, clothes, accessories, etc.

False Memories

Sometimes word associations create false memories. Try to “implant” a memory by asking people to remember the words on list 1. Wait about five minutes, then probe their memory by asking them which words on list 2 they remember.

List 1: read, pages, letters, school, study, reading, stories, sheets, cover, pen, pencil, magazine, paper, words

List 2: house, pencil, apple, shoe, book, flag, rock, train, ocean, hill, music, water, glass, school

Many tend to say that “book” was on list 1, even though only pencil and school were on list 1. Now, try these words:

List 1: sheets, pillow, mattress, blanket, comfortable, room, dream, lay, chair, rest, tired, night, dark, time

List 2: door, tree, eye, song, pillow, juice, orange, radio, rain, car, sleep, cat, dream, eat

Only pillow and dream were on list 1, but they may believe that “sleep” was also included.

Make up your own lists and see if you can create a false memory.

Be Creative

The above memory games should give you an idea on how you can play with your memory. Don't stop there. Let your imagination guide you and find your own games. Enjoy and remember to have fun!

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