You remember the game, Memory, from childhood right? The one with a set of cards that has different pictures, each with a match, on one side and the same image or pattern on the opposite side. The idea is to take turns flipping over two cards at a time, in order to find a match. The person with the most matches wins. The point is to test and improve your memory skill. I loved playing this game as a child; it consumed many hours of my day trying to see how fast I could make the matches. Thinking about how engaging the game was for me, I thought it would be a perfect addition to the busy boxes for my kids. However, I wanted a more personalized version to really keep the attention of my kids. I just needed to figure out the best way to make them so they would stand up to the rigorousness of toddlers.
I finally got the idea while browsing the $1 bins at Michaels one day. The process is super easy, and a lot of fun to put together. I first made my son this game a few years back and am now in the process of making one for my daughter. Having only taken me one day to complete, this project is also quick to put together. Here is how I made my kids their personalized memory games.
You will need the following:
- 2, 10pc. packs of cardboard coasters (these can be found in the dollar bins at Michaels or Target)
- 4 sheets of any 12×12 scrapbook paper, any pattern or solid color
- 8-10 photos, printed in duplicate
- Mod podge, glue, or other adhesive
- Sand paper
- Lamination paper, either in sheets or rolls
I knew I wanted to keep this simple, with my kids being only 2.5 years old, so I kept the number of matches to a low number of 8 and 10. This makes it possible for the game to be used as intended, in small areas like restaurants and waiting rooms, but still be challenging enough for them.
Here is my process:
I measured the coasters (3.5 x 3.5) and then selected pictures of things with special meaning to my kids. For my son, I chose photos of things he was into at the time: sidewalk chalk, bubbles, Thomas trains, Cars, our home, and a photo with his best friend. For my daughter, I am gathering photos of Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, her tea set, any photo of her in a skirt, making banana bread with her brother, singing, and a current family portrait. All things she is crazy about right now.
I then cropped my chosen photos to size (I made them slightly larger than the coasters), and printed them out, in duplicate, on photo paper at home. To do this I used Adobe Photoshop, cropping them to 3.6, arranging them on an 8.5×11 blank file to print. I got about 4 images on a page, and cut each one using my paper trimmer.
Tip: you can easily do this if you don’t have a home printer or access to Photoshop. Just choose your photos and have them printed, 4×6 size, by your local photo-processing center. Then crop them manually, by cutting them to the appropriate size.
Once cut, I adhered them to the coasters using glue and my ATG gun, but mod podge works just as well, if not better. (Tip: if you sand down both sides of the coaster it makes the glue easier to adhere.)
I then trimmed and sanded the edges for a flush, even look.
For the opposite side, I chose a patterned paper that I had an abundance of in my stash, and repeated the steps I did for the photos–cutting them to size, adhering to the back side of the coasters and sanding the edges.
Lastly, I covered each coaster in lamination paper to protect them from spilled drinks and sticky hands.
And there you have it. Simple, easy steps to making a game that is not only engaging and fun, but also meaningful to each of my kids, while helping them build upon their memory at the same time. (In case you missed Part 1 of my Creating a Busy Box For Your Child.)