Thursday, April 14, 2016

Memory Card Game

I am sure that you have played the Memory Card game, where you had a number of picture cards turned face down in front of you, and your job was to turn over 2 cards at a time in order to match the pictures. Many of you may have played this game using single vocabulary words, but here is a post-reading version which can be used with a story or a novella.  

  1. 2 packs of 100 index cards. You can have one pack of 100 but you will need to cut the cards in half. Ideally, you will be using 200 cards for 10 groups.
  2. A list of 10 sentences from a story or novel, with which students are very familiar. It is best that the senteces are not too overly long, so you can divide a long sentence into phrases.
  3. Ziploc sandwich bags
  1. Type up the list of 10 sentences, and print enough so that every student has a list.
  2. Divde the students into groups of 3 students each. You can have groups of 2 students, but groups of 4 is too big. The groups will need to arrange their desks so that they have a common working space
  3. Give each student a list of sentences.
  4. Give each group 20 index cards.
  5. Tell students to pick 3 different sentences from the list. If a group of 3, one student will have to pick 4.
  6. For each sentence, a student will write the sentence on one index card and then illustrate the sentence on another card. NOTE - it is important that everyone in the group select the SAME SIDE of the card to do this, i.e., the group needs to pick either the blank side or the side with lines to write and to illustrate.
  7. Give about 10-15 minutes for this.
  8. Have each group collect their cards and shuffle them.
  9. Have each group put their cards into the sandwich bag.
  10. Collect the bags and distribute the bags so that every group receives a different bag, i.e., they will not receive back their own bag
  11. Tell each group to lay their cards face down on their common working space.
  12.  Explain to class that they will be playing the Memory Game where each group member will take turns turning over two cards at a time trying to match the sentence with the proper picture. They may use their list as a reference. It may be that students will turn over 2 picture cards or 2 sentence cards during play - this is okay.
  13. When a match is made, that student will remove the two cards and keep them. You as the teacher can determine if you wish to have that student continue with his/her turn. I usually do not in order to allow for more students to play instead of having one student monopolize the game.
  14. When all of the matches have been made (or time runs out), then the game ends for that group. The student with the most matches in the group wins.
  15. If time remains, collect the decks and redistribute them again.
  1. Because students are already working from a story with which they are familiar, the sentences should be very comprehensible for them. 
  2. Because students are personally drawing pictures, this will aid in their acquisition process.
  3. Due to the nature of the game, students are receiving constant repetitions of the language via the sentences or the pictures.
  4. My absolute favorite part of the game though is students trying to interpret other group's pictures! I love hearing "Who the heck drew this?!!"
  5. I have found that students help each other to remember where particular cards are.
  6. I love the fact that as a teacher, I am simply facilitating. 
Consider giving this activity a try!


  1. Keith, I am going to try this game out tomorrow with some of my 8th and 9th grade students. I was wondering if this could be combined with OWATS that the students make after I create a powerpoint and share with the group. I am going to give it a go. Thanks as always for everything!

  2. I love this! I did this with 3 of my classes today. Once you have a bunch of sets of cards, do you ever skip the crating set and just have classes play with the ready-made cards?

    1. For me, having students create the cards is part of the process of acquiring/reviewing the words. Plus, I have found it fun for students to question their classmates' drawings.