March 16, 2010 Features

Memory Materials

As a person nearing retirement from teaching, starting to enjoy the articles in the AARP
magazine, and receiving countless ads from insurance companies about Medicare supplemental insurance, I've started to wonder which "age-related communication disorders" I might experience. This concern is one important reason I've worked hard for more than 25 years to train future clinicians!

I've signed up for the free "word of the day" and started doing the newspaper crossword puzzles. Most articles that examine whether or not these activities postpone Alzheimer's or dementia are "tentative"—some say the claims are nothing more than an "old wives' tale." However, a 2003 article in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that "elderly persons who did crossword puzzles four days a week (four activity-days) had a risk of dementia that was 47% lower than that among subjects who did puzzles once a week (one activity-day)."

Crossword Puzzles

Here are a few crossword puzzle sites to explore just in case (and they also provide word-finding and vocabulary enrichment):

Word Retrieval

  • Stuck for Words by Caroline Bowen offers word-retrieval activities especially for children and suggests many strategies.
  • Prognosticate offers a news-predicting game ("When the news story stops, you have to deduce the next word and type it in.") The site suggests reading sections of CNN or BBC to make this activity a memory-recall as well as word-prediction session.
  • One Cut Book of Word Retrieval Strategies [PDF] by Lisa Vadnie with instructions how to make the One Cut Book [PDF].
  • Don't Forget—Memory Activity has activities to test memory and suggestions to help remember things.
  • Rootonym provides a root word and clues to fill in the blanks.

Visual and/or Auditory Memory

  • Memory game of signs is a concentration activity that asks users to match familiar street signs and provides an "efficiency rating" of how many mistakes are made.
  • Visual Memory from Toy Theater gives the user five seconds to memorize colored circles on a grid and after the circles disappear, to drag the circles onto the grid where they belong.
  • Sing-Along Songs has midis and lyrics and includes name-that-tune activities for "oldies," "patriotic tunes," or "children's tunes."
  • Flibriks Memory game requires users to match tiles to earn points. (Warning: It goes pretty fast!)
  • Memory Gym memory training has flashing numbers,Кspoken numbers, flashing cards, flashing shapes, and flashing words to recall. You can program the number of stimuli and the flash rate.
  • Don't Forget has activities to test and suggestions to enhance your memory.
  • Free Online Games has a variety of fun memory activities that can be played online or downloaded (it begins with a short commercial).
  • Britain's Best Brain tests calculation, memory, coordination, recognition, and risk.
  • AARP provides several activities with a variety of difficulty levels. Warning—start at the easiest level!
  • The Right Word claims to "train your brain to find words quickly and effortlessly."
  • Split Words provides a category and several words that "fit" if you match them correctly.
  • The Squeaking Mouse requires users to match animal noises with their pictures.
  • Secret Files is a word categorization activity.

Thousands of similar activities can be found by entering key words such as "memory games" or "crossword puzzles" or "word finding exercises" into a search engine.

Judith Maginnis Kuster, MS, CCC-SLP, is a professor in the Department of Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at An archive of all of Kuster's columns can be found online. URLs change, however, and there is no guarantee that links from previous columns are still functional.

cite as: Kuster, J. M. (2010, March 16). Memory Materials. The ASHA Leader.


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