Every once in a while, a game manages to teach a few valuable skills to unsuspecting players and make them smarter without them ever realizing it. Candyland snuck in some color recognition mentoring. Hi Ho! Cherry-O stealthily gave kids the ability to count, and Hot Potato … well, that taught the valuable lesson that if you holding something that is hot, you should hand it to someone else immediately. But in terms of developing concentration and matching skills, the name of the game was Memory – a simple card game that taxed those brain cells to no end.

Memory (also known in some circles as Pairs) was introduced by Milton Bradley in 1960. It was a simple to learn, yet more than a little challenging, card game that was based upon a popular television game show that ran for 14 years called Concentration. Geared towards the 4-6 group, but enjoyable by players of any age, Memory tested the skills of recall, as players tried to keep track of numerous images and find their matching counterpart.

A deck of 72 cards contained 36 pairs of matching pictures. Shuffled and arranged face down, players alternately turned over two cards at a time, trying to find the images that matched. For younger players, the game could be simplified by reducing the number of matching cards used. And if opponents were hard to come by, a solo game, while certainly less competitive, still offered plenty of challenge – or at least alleviated boredom.

Teachers took notice of the educational benefits of Memory and made it a staple of classrooms around the world. And since it was entirely image-based, Memory was a game that knew no language boundaries. Its sustained popularity has led to a number of variations based on popular children’s icons such as Mickey Mouse and Barney the Dinosaur to entice kids with images of their favorite characters.

In a day and age where kids often have trouble focusing, the game of Memory is still one of the best ways to hone in those concentration skills, which is why Milton Bradley continues to manufacture the game to this day. Just don’t tell kids that they are learning – that would take all the fun out of it.

If you have fond memories of playing this brain-teasing game, we hope you’ll share them in our comments section below. And if you don’t remember playing Memory, perhaps it is because you didn’t play it enough. Just a theory.

One Response to “Memory”

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  1. Gina says:

    This brings back memories! Ha ha! Seriously, though, I remember playing that often with my Mother when I was a young child. I seem to recall two of the pictures were of smokestacks. I haven’t seen the game stocked in any local stores for years and years. Back in the 90’s, when I was a young adult, I played a game similar to memory on a CD-ROM: Disney’s Aladdin Activity Center.

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