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Sequential Memory Games - Silly Story Review by Karen Waide

Mercury Learning Systems

My children and I have been working on our memory skills with Sequential Memory Games – Silly Story. This downloadable game from Mercury Learning Systems is based on the concept of “memory linking,” which was first used in Ancient Greece, and is still used successfully in Asian countries to this day. The idea of “memory linking” is that sequential recall of objects or a story will improve if there are visual cues. This in turn leads to “out-of-the-box” thinking which allows individuals to develop creative and innovative thinking skills. The developers of this Silly Story game discovered that the addition of silliness and humor helps the individual to memorize objects even better, allowing for the recall of up to 100 items.

I received a link to download the zip file which contained the computer game plus the printable files. These files include printable cards, instructions for the extra computer games, plus instructions for the physical cards, the award certificate, game keys, and the progress chart. All of these files are also accessible from the actual game. Additionally, there is a resources file which allows you to access the game and printables online.

When first opening the game in the flash player, a home screen comes up. From here you can play the game, read information about memory linking, read the basic instructions, or pull up the playing cards and extras. It is recommended to read the instructions first before playing. I would also recommend reading the “Computer Game Instructions” that are found under the Extras tab, because these games are different than the basic Game Instructions, and some of the games require that you haven’t seen all the sets of cards.

The basic game is simple. There are ten sets of ten cards, each in a different color. You are to start with the first set, clicking on each card which will “flip” it over to display an animated picture in the color of that set’s cards. This is just a short animation which goes along with the sentence being read by the computer. Then the card will remain still, showing the picture of the object that is to be memorized, which is also highlighted in red in the sentence below the picture. Each object is connected to the next card through the silly story. Of course, if it wasn’t for the story, these objects wouldn’t logically go together.

Here, let me explain. The first row of cards features the following objects: Bells, Bird, Comb, Tow Truck, and Barrow. Now, those might or might not be difficult for someone to memorize in order. However, the silly story helps you to remember the order the object go in. When you remember that you hear funny bells that sound like a bird chirping, and the bird uses a comb on his feathers, which suddenly got pulled away with a tow truck which drove right into a barrow, it should make it easier to remember the objects in order. Granted, memorizing five objects isn’t that difficult. But when you continue on with the sets, it most definitely becomes tricky to remember the objects in order, without the story to help you remember.

We worked on learning one set and then moving on to the next set in addition to the first set, and so on. When playing the game, after clicking on each card in the set and listening to the story sentences, you would click the “Guess” button, which turns the cards back over and deletes the story sentences. The object of the game is to say the objects as accurately as you can, clicking them to check as you go. This basic game can be played with very young children. The instructionsgive an age range of, “about 8 months - 7 years,” for the suggested ages. I would think the lower end would depend on when a child is actually speaking. All of my children have been playing this version of the game, as have I, so I would say it can be played by any age.

As I mentioned, there are other games to play. In addition to the basic “Silly Story,” there are five more games. These are: “BlaaBlaa Blank,”“Mind Meld,”“Blind Recall,”“Randomosity,” and “Absolute Perfection.” One is appropriate for preschool and up, while the more difficult ones are more appropriate for early elementary (some being five years old, others seven years old). Some games can be played as a team, while others are designed for individual play. You may have to fill in the blank while someone reads the story line, or race against each other to say the objects fastest. These may be done with the story sets in order, or out of order (though the cards in each set still need to be revealed in order). There is even one where the player doesn’t look at the cards but has to focus on their listening skills. The hardest version has the players repeating the entire sentence from memory, not just the word for the object.

The game the children enjoyed playing is “Mind Meld.” In this game they got to work in teams to help each other recall the objects as fast as possible. Each team could choose any two sequential sets that they wanted to. They listen to both sets and then are timed by the other team, recording the times on the Progress Chart. Then they switch places. It is suggested that three rounds are played, using different sets each time. The final winners are the ones that had the fastest total times.

Another thing I liked to have the children do is work on seeing how far they could get in the basic game. We are still working on getting all the way to the 100th card without any mistakes. One of my children has made it all the way with only a few mistakes. I remember they had taken a break from playing the game, and I was surprised by how much they did recall without making a mistake, stating the object with hardly any hesitation. They are doing better than me!

I’ll admit, after a while they did get tired of repeating the basic game. However, they really enjoyed being able to use the printed cards to create their own stories for their siblings, along with mom and dad, to remember. The older girls had a better grasp on how to create memorable sentences, but even my eight-year-old and six year old came up with some interesting stories.

The printable cards actually come with ideas for five additional games, more of which are able to be played with younger children. These are: “Make a Story,”“Tell Me a Story,” Silly Linking,”“Match My Story,” and “Next Please.” Additionally, there are Game Keys that can be printed out, which show the card images plus the sentence that goes with them, so you can read the original story lines while using the printed cards to play both the printed card games and some of the computer games.

Sequential Memory Games - Silly Story really is a fun way to work on memory skills. We just love the cute voice that narrates the stories (we could swear we’ve heard it somewhere before). The stories themselves are quite memorable as they really are hilarious. And we love that we have the chance to use our creativity to come up with our own stories. While listening to the children coming up with their own sentences, we realized how important it is that the stories make sense (in a nonsensical way) and flow well. Which the stories in the game do well. Children can challenge themselves to better their own time and card number record, plus they can compete with siblings and/or friends. The children can continue improving and can eventually earn the Accelerated Learner Award. I will say, I would love for the company to develop an expansion pack, so the children could keep their interest up while continuing on with the game.

We have enjoyed using this game to work on our memory and can highly recommend it. It is available on their website for $13.95.

- Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018