We can improve the working memory of our children with some simple games.
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What is missing?
Place a selection of items on the floor in front of the children. Have one or more children close their eyes while you remove an item or two. Ask them to recall what is missing. We played this version in class while learning about shapes.
You can play a game of memory with just about anything. Colour cards, pictures, letters, numbers... the list goes on. Start with a small number of cards, matching pictures or colours work well for young children, and gradually increase the number of paired cards you are using. Place all the cards face down. To play turn two cards over at a time, match a pair and you get another shot. Play until all the pairs are matched.
Memory game in a box
A couple of years ago I bought this wooden memory box from Discount School Supplies in the US. It's perfect for playing memory as well. I've used it lots of different ways. Here children were trying to match the object to the beginning sound as a literacy centre activity.
Providing story telling baskets for retelling is one of my favourite ways to improve a child's short term memory in the classroom. After sharing a book together I'll often make the book available with some puppets, story stones, animals, cards or other props to suit for children to be able to retell the shared story. For this, they need to call on their short term memory to be able to recall the storyline.
Used similarly to retelling. For younger children, it might be sequencing picture cards like their morning routine or drawing the correct sequence of a recipe or story. For older children, it might be writing the sequence of events. What happened first, second, next, last? There are some great printable book-based resources available. I love the free ones available at Early Learning HQ. These sequence cards for Rosie's Walk came from there.
You can also play sequencing games or move to songs like 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, Toes' but change the order so a child needs to recall what is now 'Toes' in the song. It might be as simple as making 'toes' become 'head' to start with. Or you can try some partner games like those used by Play is the Way program.
Repeating rhymes or song lines can help improve a child's working memory too. There's a reason why nursery rhymes have been sung to children all this time.
Teaching others means thinking about what you know and then being able to memorise it in a different way to be able to present the information to others. It can be a useful way to extend the knowledge of an already capable student.
If you have any other suggestions for improving short term memory, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear your ideas too.
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