Concentration or Memory Game

To Make

Select 5 - 10 words from a book (or books) the child is reading. Print each word clearly and boldly on separate 3x5 inch index cards, making pairs of each word. (The child may be able to help you by copying the words you write.)

To Play

Shuffle the cards and place them face down in neat rows. Take turns turning up two cards at a time and reading the words aloud. If the two cards match, the player keeps them and takes a second turn. If they do not match, the cards are replaced face down and the next player takes a turn. Play until all the cards are matched. The player with the most pairs wins. If the child has trouble recognizing a word, say the word - do not ask the child to "sound out" the word. The purpose of this game is to build automatic recognition of whole words.

ghost gameboard

You can control the difficulty of the game by the choice and number of words used: for very beginning readers, choose meaningful words that are visually distinctive: "ghost", "dark", "sister", and keep the number of words low. For a more challenging game, include some words that are less distinctive: "when", "what", "this", "that", but be careful not to overwhelm the child.

Variation 1

Instead of matching pairs, you can use rhyming pairs: look, book; dark, park.

game board

Variation 2

This game can also be used to build letter recognition and letter/sound association. Paste or draw simple pictures on one set of cards; and on the other set, print initial consonants to go with the pictures. For example, paste the picture of a dog on one card, and write the letter "D" on a matching card.

NOTE: This game can be adapted to use with older children, or more advanced readers: variations can include vocabulary practice such as using homonyms, (words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings: cent/scent; dear/deer, etc.) or contractions, (can't; cannot, etc.).