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22 Preschool Memory Games (That Really Work!)

I believe I have probably tried at least a hundred memory games out with the children I have taught between the ages of 3-5. At least that many, but maybe more!

However, out of all those games, the following 22 really stood out. These are the ones children will ask for time and again, and they will also help them develop lots of skills alongside memory.

Developing children’s memory will greatly impact many areas of their life. It is a crucial part of the following:

  • Learning how to read. Memory helps them to learn letters and sounds and also remember key sight words
  • Recognizing numbers and developing other maths skills
  • Remembering and making sense of their lives
  • Understanding events as they happen to them
  • Acquiring knowledge
  • Learning skills more quickly and remembering what they have learned

In a world of technology, these fun games are also more and more necessary with each passing year. Good luck if you give any of them a go!

1. Bug In A Rug

Resources – One sheet, rug, or parachute

This is good to play with a parachute or a big sheet. The children all sit around it and close their eyes.

What you do is either the adult or one child selected as the tagger will tap a child on the shoulder. That child opens their eyes and hides underneath the sheet or parachute.

Then everyone opens their eyes. The idea is to guess who is under the sheet. It is all about memory and trying to remember who is sitting where.

2. Jungle Story

Resources – feely bag or box, toy jungle animals, a box (to put the animals in)

This is a memory circle game. It works best for about 3-6 children, but you could potentially do it with a few more if they have really excellent memories.

The first person puts their hand into the bag, takes out an animal (e.g., an elephant), and says, ‘At the zoo, I saw an elephant.’

They pass the bag to the next person who says, ‘At the zoo, I saw an elephant, and a …(whatever they take out, e.g., a lion)

Continue like this, with each child continuing the string.

Top tip – The easy way of doing this game is to put the animals in the middle so everyone can see them. The hard way is to each put them in a box, so you just have to remember.

3. Robber Game

Resources – sheet, some random objects (optional – a robber’s mask)

This is a simple memory game that they really enjoy. Pick one child to be the ‘robber.’ They could wear the robber’s mask if you would like!

Have at least three objects, show the children, and then put a sheet over the top of them. Then everyone closes their eyes. The robber sneaks up, robs an object, and puts it behind their back.

Then everyone opens their eyes and takes the sheet away. Try to guess what has been stolen! Start this game with three objects, but expand the number if they get really good.

The is a great game for early phonics if you do it with objects that start with the same letter or objects that rhyme. For more fantastic alliteration games, check these out. 

4. Rhyming Train

Resources – A bag of rhyming pictures, a box

This game is a bit trickier. Sit in a circle, and one at a time, people put their hand into the bag and take one out (e.g., a cat). They say, ‘I saw a cat.’

The next person takes one out (e.g., a hat) and says, ‘I saw a cat and a hat.’

Continue like this, building up the rhyming string.

5. Team Draw A Picture

Resources – one large picture is drawn in advance by the adult, pieces of paper, pens

In advance, the adult will draw a large picture on a piece of paper. It could be anything with lots of detail, for example, an alien face with loads of eyes and other features. Or it could be a house with lots of detail or a fish bowl containing many different things.

When you play the game, put the piece of paper somewhere where they can’t see it.

Split up into teams of about three. Give each team a piece of paper and some pens.

The idea is that one person from each team will go and take a look at the picture (wherever you have hidden it), come back, and start to draw it. Then the next person on the team will go, come back and try to help them. Then the next person goes.

The idea is to try to copy the picture pretty much exactly on your piece of paper. They can look at the picture as often as they want. There will be lots of memory, debate, and cooperation involved.

6. Copy The Sound

Resources – nothing

This is a much simpler memory game. It is good for speech and language, and memory.

Sit in a circle. The adult starts. They make a noise toward the first person in the circle. That person tries to copy the sound to the person next to them. They continue to pass it around the circle.

7. Pairs

Resources – some simple playing cards

This is a classic card game that is brilliant for young children and for developing memory.

Have some kind of cards – something with pictures would be perfect, like different animal cards, superhero cards, or something like that.

Start with only a few pairs, maybe five sets. The first person goes, picking up two cards, and checking what they are. If you get two the same, you keep them. If they are different, you put them back. Then the next person goes.

The winner is the person at the end that has the most pairs.

8. Three Cups

Resources – Three cups (not surprisingly), something to put under it like a pompom.

This is a classic street trick. Put the pompom (or whatever you’re using) under a cup. Move the cups around quite a bit to trick the other person. Then line them up in a row.

One child will try to guess where the pompom is.

9. Copy The Facial Expression

Resources – nothing

This game starts really easily, but it can get progressively harder. It is excellent for memory and eye contact, and understanding emotions.

The easiest version is as follows: the first person in the circle does an emotional face, e.g., a happy, sad, angry, or shocked face. Everyone copies. Then the next person goes.

Medium version: the first person does a sequence of two faces, for example, sad, then happy. Everyone copies – sad then happy. Then the next person goes.

Hard version: the first person does a sequence of three faces. Everyone copies!

There are lots of similar excellent ideas to this in this article – 21 preschool circle time games that actually work! 

10. What Did You Change?

Resources – some different hats, coats, and scarves

This is really good fun. One child comes into the middle of the circle. They put on one hat, one scarf, and one coat.

Then everyone closes their eyes.

The child in the middle swaps just one item of clothing. For example, they might change their hat. Then everyone opens their eyes and tries to guess which item they changed.

11. Picnic Game

Resources – feely bag of pretend food, picnic hamper (or box)

This is another great circle game. The first person takes a piece of food out and says, ‘For the picnic, we take a (whatever it is, e.g. ‘cake’). Then the next person goes and says, for example, ‘For the picnic, we take a cake and an apple.’

Resources – feely bag of pretend food, picnic hamper (or box)

This is another great circle game. The first person takes a piece of food out and says, ‘For the picnic, we take a (whatever it is, e.g., ‘cake’). Then the next person says, for example, ‘For the picnic, we take a cake and an apple.’

Continue like this.

12. Magic Trick

Resources – sheet, objects, magic wand

Children love a bit of magic! The idea of this one is it is a bit like Kim’s Game but jazzed up!

Put some objects in the middle of the circle and then cover them with a sheet. Get the children to close their eyes, then ‘abracadabra!’ (Secretly, you remove an object from under the sheet and hide it.

Then they open their eyes, and you remove the sheet. What has vanished!? If you’d like a real magic wand that makes a noise (which is more fun than you believe), check them out here. 

13. Missing Child Game

Resources – nothing

You can have hours of fun with this game.

Everyone sits in a circle. They close their eyes. The adult taps one child on the shoulder. They stand up and go and hide somewhere, for example, around the corner.

Then everyone opens their eyes and tries to guess who has gone missing. Great for eye contact and trying to remember who is around them.

14. Mystery Object

Resources – feely bag, one mystery object (of your choice)

The idea is that in a circle, you pass around the feely bag, and every child holds it for a few seconds and tries to guess what’s in it. Then they pass it to the next person. Everyone has one guess: ‘I think it’s an orange.’ ‘I think it’s a ball.’ ‘I think it’s an apple.’ Etc

When you get to the end, before you look in the bag, ask the children to point to the person they think said, for example, a ball,’ ‘an orange.’ This gets them all really focusing on what the others say and trying to develop memory.

Then reveal what was in the bag!

15. Copy The Rhythm

Resources – nothing, or you can use rhythm sticks or drums

This one is a bit harder than some of the other games.

If you are not using rhythm sticks or drums, you can just do it with clapping.

The easier way of doing it is this – pick a theme, for example, food. Then one child thinks of food and claps (or hits) the word, e.g., ba-na-na! (That would be three hits!) Everyone copies.

Then the next child picks a piece of food and hits it.

The harder way of doing the game is for the first child just hit the sticks together in a rhythm (it could be anything). Then everyone tries to copy.

Then the next person goes.

Go with the easy version first, and if they are good at this, then go on to the hard version.

16. Copy The Instrument

Resources – two lots of about four instruments.

This is an excellent early phonics game that develops listening and memory.

Have one child in the middle of the circle, with four instruments in front of them. The adult has the same four instruments but goes and hides somewhere.

Play one instrument and see if the child can copy the same instrument.

You can make this harder by trying to copy the instrument and copy the rhythm.

Harder again would be to copy two instruments, or copy two instruments and copy the rhythm also!

17. Journey Sticks

Resources – Sticks, objects you find on a journey

These are beautiful natural resources and great for memory.

The idea is that if you go on a trip with your children, you find objects on the way and collect them. When you get home or to school/nursery, stick these objects to a long stick. This stick becomes your ‘journey stick’. It offers memories of what you saw and did.

18. Poems And Chants

Resources – nothing

Some simple chants, rhymes, and poems are great to learn by heart, so you can recite them. It helps if they repeat a lot or if you have actions to bring it to life.

19. Number String

Resources – Either nothing or you could have number cards.

In a circle, the first child says a number, e.g., ‘5’. The next child will have to say that number, ‘5’, and then say a number of their own, e.g., ‘3’. Then the next child says, ‘5,3…etc.’

Keep building it up like this.

An easier way to do this is to all use number cards. The first child takes out a number and puts it in a box. Then the next person builds on this etc.

20. Journey Maps

Resources – Some paper, pens, etc

This is a great activity after you have been on some kind of adventure. At home, it could be a walk to the park. Or it could be a walk around the school or a treasure hunt around the outside. You could even do a map of your route to school.

The activity is that you simply draw a map of where you have been. Put all the features that you can remember. Great for generating talk and remembering recent events in your life.

21. Missing Words Out Of Songs

Resources – nothing

This one is great for listening skills as well as memory.

Sing simple songs like Twinkle Twinkle or The Wheels on the Bus. At key moments leave out a word. See if they notice, and see if they can fill in the missing word. For example:

Twinkle twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you …

This can also be good for rhyme and a simple way of filling in rhyming strings.

22. Copy The Sequence

Resources – nothing

This one is great for memory and also eye contact, which is a huge target for most children.

The idea is that the first person in the circle will tap three parts of the body in a sequence with their hands. For example, it could be ‘head, knees, feet.’ Then everyone tries to copy.

Then the next person goes: it could be ‘tummy, chest, shoulders.’ Everyone copies again.

Keep going like this.

This game can be simplified. If they are having problems, slow it down, and repeat each sequence several times. A simpler way of doing the game is to just touch one part of the body but do it three times.


Honestly, these are the best memory tries I have ever tried with children aged 3-5. With just a few simple resources, you can really develop their memory skills, which will greatly affect many other areas of their learning.

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