Although we don’t always want them to remember everything (kids have a knack for recalling the most desperate of our negotiation tactics), brain boosting memory games are one of the best way to keep little minds busy and sharp as a tack to boot. We’ve rounded up some of our faves for every situation, from an old-school game night to impromptu activities to do on the go.

simon

The Classics

Talk about memories. These old-school games are classics for a reason. Kids and adults love them, and they are perfect for a night in with the family.

Simon
Remember when this game was considered a high-tech toy? Mimicking Simon’s color, light and tone sequence may seem simple, but once you advance a few levels, get ready for a serious challenge. Get the kids inspired by watching one off these Simon-masters at work. 

Memory
Hasbro came out with the original in the 80s, and since then hundreds of variations have popped up, from Elmo to Frozen to Rescue Bots. There are plenty of DIY ideas out there, but at $5.99 for the real deal, we think it’s worth not having to draw 48 of your own picture cards.

memory trayPhoto: newkidscenter.com

The DIYs

These games can be done anywhere, anytime, as they require little more than a pen and paper (if that!). Oh, and your smarty’s razor-sharp memory, of course.

Remember the Code 
This all day game is fun to play anytime, and can turn into a little inside joke between you and your littles. Depending on their age, come up with either a fun phrase or random string of words. Write it on a slip of paper and let them look at it and try to memorize it for up to a minute. Then stick the paper in your pocket and carry it with you throughout the day. Starting just five minutes after you hide it away, turn to your kid and shout: What’s the code?! and see if they can recite it back. Do this throughout the day, and see if and when they are able to remember. Tiny treats for each time they crack the code make this even more rewarding.

What’s Missing?
Gather a number of items around the house and find a cover for the tray. You can use objects likea toothbrush, scissors, a toy, silverware, a rock, keys, etc. Place about 5 or 6 objects on the tray (make sure to use less if kids are little). Cover the tray and place on a table. Allow the kids to look at the tray for a few minutes. Cover the tray back up and take out of the room. Take one object off the tray out of kids’ view and cover back up. Take the tray back to the table and remove the cover. Ask kids which item is missing. Do this until all objects are gone and all kids have a turn of naming a missing object. You can either give points for right answers or remove a child from the game if they answer incorrectly. Go to newkidscenter.com for even more games that you can do with what you already have at home. 

kid-on-ipad

The High Tech

Animal Memory 
This is a digital version of the classic Memory game, featuring animals. We love that there are no bells and whistles, and that the sounds can be easily disabled. There are 4 levels and 4 themes. Get more info and download it here: commonsensemedia.org

Memory Train
Memory Train is an engaging, fast-moving memory game. It can be helpful for kids who have visual processing issues, as they need to decipher color and shape at a quick pace. It can also be helpful for kids who need help with their working memory, as they need to remember the color shape they saw and identify it with three different paint colors. Get more info and download it here: commonsensemedia.org

Do you have a favorite memory game to play with your kids? Tell us about it in the comments below!