Guessing Games

Areas developed: Working Memory, Focus, Processing, Observational skill

little spy

Any family who has ever taken a road trip together with kids in the car has probably played a variation of the "I Spy" game, wherein the "Spy" calls out a single characteristic of an object they can see. The other participants must try and identify what that object is based on that very limited description.

"I spy something green!", one child might say, to which the others might respond with guesses like:


"That road sign!"

"Mom's shirt!"

This might seem like simply a fun exercise, but it's excellent at developing working memory, focus, processing, and observational skills.

A primary component of working memory is absorbing a piece or pieces of data, and then holding that information in memory long enough and accurately enough to do calculations with it.

In this case, once given the initial piece of data, (the object is green), each participant is keeping that specific criterion in mind while moving their attention from object to object.

When their eyes rest on a target, they absorb the details of that target and compare that information to the aforementioned criterion. This is the "calculation" part, and it happens over and over again in rapid succession until an appropriate target is located, and the participant verbalizes their assessment.

This same game can increase in complexity to further strengthen working memory simply by adding more pieces of data into the mix.

"I spy something orange, and round!"

"The sun!"

"One of those pumpkins over there!"

"Dad's basketball!"

The more components that are added, the higher the degree of working memory prowess is required.

Since many of you will be playing this game at home, you can move from room to room to keep it interesting. You can make it even more fun by allowing the family member who got the most correct guesses in the first room to select the next room to explore!

Around the dinner table, incorporate more memory work. Discuss the game that was played early in the day using prompting questions. For example, "does anyone remember what we found in the living room that was purple and soft?"

Explore and play in the yard, when your on the road, or in your own home! Have fun and be creative while improving everyone's focus, working memory, processing, and observational skills!