Your preschooler probably asks you a lot of questions about the world around her, including the ever-popular, “Why?” At this age, her brain is also continuing to develop the capacity for memorization, which provides the perfect opportunity to turn the tables and direct a few questions back at her. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that it’s not yet time to whip out the stack of flash cards and train for the Memory Olympics, but you can nurture the skill with fun, pressure-free memory activities. You might even enjoy a little time without a single “why?”; however, this particular result is not guaranteed.
Hidden Object Guessing Game
Gather three identical, opaque cups, a flat surface and a small object, such as a penny, a ping-pong ball or a paper clip. Have your child watch as you place the object underneath one of the upside-down cups. Tell him to remember which cup covers the object as you slide the cups around and mix up their positions. Then have him guess which of the three cups now hides the object. Take turns guessing. Optional: make it a snacking game by hiding a raisin, small cracker or candy-coated chocolate piece under the cup. Each time he guesses correctly, he can enjoy the hidden treat.
On the way to the store or preschool, recite a short list for your child to remember, such as items you will buy at the store. Challenge her to repeat the list back to you, or recall as many words as she can. Repeat the challenge by adding items to the list, or by providing an entirely new short list. In another variation of this game, you can sing lines of lyrics to your child and have her sing the lines back. Then together, sing the whole song.
DIY Matching Game
To create your own matching game, you need 10 or more pairs of matching-value cards from a card deck. Or, cut your own game cards from card stock and decorate them with stickers, stamps and other identical image pairs. To play, shuffle the cards and lay them face down in rows. Take turns flipping over two cards at a time to find matches. The player who has made the most matches at the end of the game wins.
Phone Number Memorization
Have your child practice his memory skills and learn important family information at the same time by memorizing your phone number. Make the job easier by dividing the digits into three smaller, more manageable groups. You can relate the number groups to names, just like the child’s first, middle and last names. Call the first three digits the phone number’s “first name,” the second three digits its “middle name” and the last four digits its “last name.” Each time you ask your child to recall the phone number, divide up the question into those three parts.