With the Kids

Homemade Memory Game

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What’s more fun than playing a game? Making your own game! One of our favorite preschool games is Memory, the matching card game. My son usually plays the official version at Grandma’s house, but we don’t have that game at home. The concept is so simple that we decided to make our own with readymade stickers and cardstock.

The stickers that come with many stickers to a sheet, with repeating images are ideal, like the ones sold in the education/teacher aisle at your local dollar store. Or, buy two packages of identical stickers. Any kind of unmarked cardstock will work. The heavier, the better!

Project Materials:

  • Stickers (you must have 2 of each image), $1
  • 1-2 sheets of cardstock or heavy paper, $.50 or less
  • Paper cutter or scissors, on hand

Total cost: $1.50

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To Make:

You will need one card per sticker. Determine how many cards you will need based on the number of stickers you have.

Cut cards from cardstock. To cut 16 cards from one sheet of paper, cut paper in half from both directions. Cut resulting rectangles in half again in both directions. This is easiest if you have a paper cutter, but you can also do it with scissors.

Stick stickers to cards. Your child can help with this (my two year-old did a pretty good job! The images weren’t perfectly lined up on the card, but he didn’t care, and he had a ball
sticking the stickers on the cards).

Note: it is best if stickers are different-looking enough to not be confusing to little ones. In other words, two different shots of the same breed of doggie might be a little too similar! We
used these stickers that all have a different baby animal on them.

Play the game!

To Play (ages 3 and up):

  1. Mix cards up.
  2. Lay all cards face-down on table (in a grid pattern).
  3. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of her choosing
    over. If cards match, she takes the cards and has another turn. If
    cards don’t match, move to the next player.
  4. When all cards are matched, the player with the most sets of matching cards wins.

To Play Simplified Version (ages 2 and under):

  1. Limit total number of cards to 8, or four sets (you adjust for your child’s skill and interest level).
  2. Youngest player goes first and turns two cards of his choosing
    over. If cards match, she takes them, but does not have another turn.
  3. Next player takes a turn.
  4. When a match is made, everyone cheers.
  5. When all cards are matched, start over again.

The Not-Ready-For-Organized-Games version (younger 2s and under):

  1. Turn 4 sets of cards face up.
  2. Take turns looking at each card and trying to find its partner.
  3. Cheer when child finds a match.

Other tips:

  • You can also use these cards to play other games like Go Fish.
  • If you don’t have stickers that match, how about making your own? Print photos of your family (faces are good) on labels and stick onto cards. Avery has free label-making software that makes it super easy to print straight to labels! This would also be a fun handmade gift for a birthday boy or girl.

Heather Mann is a regular contributor at Make and Takes. She’s is the mother of two boys under age 3, and another boy on the way. She publishes Dollar Store Crafts, a daily blog devoted to hip crafting at dollar store prices, CROQ Zine, a print magazine devoted to hip crafting, and also CraftFail, a community blog that encourages crafters to share their not-so-successful craft attempts.

13 comments

  1. We made our own matching/memory game when my 2 year old son was learning his colors. We went to our local hardware store and grabbed some basic paper paint swatches. (The ones we picked were from the ‘Disney’ paint line.) Then we bought a pack of baseball card sleeves to put the cards in. We also have done it with small pictures and put the cards on a key ring to give him something to look at while driving in the car. And the plastic sleeves keep the cards from getting bent and dirty.

  2. Ooh, family pictures is a great idea! I made memory cards (in under 5 minutes, I might add!) last month for a plan trip. I used perforated business card stock and Sesame Street stickers. It was a hit with the 3-year-old!

  3. I definitely want to do this with family photos, so easy to add to when someone new joins the fam! We’ve done this just with drawings I made of my daughter’s favorite things and played it at her 5th birthday as kids arrived. She still loves it!

  4. Definitely a great idea!! We have loads of Elmo & Mickey stickers lying around. What a great way to put them to use!

    Making this when I get home from work TODAY!!

  5. I love this idea. I think it would be fun to print out pictures of friends and family members that the kids would recognize and make a memory game out of that. How fun would it be to turn over a card and see the face of someone you love?

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