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“Blink!” An Executive Function Matching Game

Parents, don’t look away too soon! This fast-paced game is full of endless possibilities for memory fun!


Learn How to Play “Blink” With Your Child Now

EF Activity Objective:

This activity introduces mindful concentration, helping your child learn how to hold rules in their memory and exercise flexible thinking. They match cards based on color, shape, or number. There are four levels for different age groups and cognitive abilities.

Executive Function Skills Practiced:

  • Selective Attention: Players must pay attention to certain shapes and colors while ignoring others.
  • Working Memory: Keeping the correct rules in mind as they play is essential!
  • Cognitive Flexibility: Your child will have to switch between certain rules at different times while playing.
 

Duration: 10 – 15 Minutes

Environment: Enough table or floor space to display images

Materials List:

  • Deck of Blink Cards
  • The Blink Game is available for purchase online or make your own version below 
  • 60 index cards
  • Red, yellow, green, blue, purple and black markers
  • Stencils for tracing different shapes, such as stars, triangles, diamonds, lightning bolts, crisscrosses, and circles. Choose 7 unique shapes.
  • Each card should have 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 of a particular shape
  • Make sure there is an even distribution of color, shape, and number throughout your deck. Not every possible combination will be represented.

Ready To Play? Game Levels and Step-by-Step Instructions:

  • Choose the right level of play based on your child’s age, then move up as they master the lower levels.

  • Provide memory cues at the start of each turn if needed, such as “Remember, we’re matching X this round!”

  • Review the number cards aloud as needed if your child needs help remembering.

 

Game Level 1– The Color Game  (2-3 years):

  • Find a card of each color (red, green, blue, yellow, gray, brown) and place them face up in the middle of the table.
  • Explain the rules to your child: “We’re going to play the color game. When it’s your turn, match the color on your card to one of the cards on the table. Let me show you.”
  • Take a card off the deck, name the color, and place it in the corresponding pile.
  • Encourage your child to draw a card on their turn. Name the color and continue playing.
  • Correct your child if they make a mistake: “Oops! Is your card the same color as that pile? Look carefully at all these colors and find the ______ pile.”

Game Level 2– The Shape Game  (3-4 years):

  • Find a card of each shape (triangles, stars, moons, raindrops, lightning bolts, flowers) and place them face up in the middle. 
  • Explain the rules to your child: “Now, we’re going to play the shape game. When it’s your turn, match the shape on your card to one of the cards on the table. Let me show you.”
  • Take a card, name the shape, and place it in the corresponding pile. 
  • Encourage your child to draw a card on his or her turn. Name the shape and continue playing. 
  • Correct your child if they make a mistake: “Oops! Is your card the same shape as that pile? Look carefully at all these shapes and find the ______ pile.

Game Level 3– The Number Game  (4-5 years):

  • Find a card of each number (1-5) and place them face up in increasing order in front of your child.
  • Explain the rules: “Now, we’re going to play the number game. When it’s your turn, match the number on your card to one of the cards on the table. Let me show you.”
  • Draw a card, count the shapes aloud, name the number, and place it in the corresponding pile.
  • Encourage your child to draw a card. Count the items and continue playing.
  • Correct your child if they make a mistake: “Oops! Let’s count again. How many are on your card? Let’s look carefully and find the ______ pile.” 

Game Level 4– All Mixed Up  (5+ years):

  • Place 5 random cards face up in the middle of the table.
  • On your turn, ask your child, “Should I match by color, shape, or number?”
  • Explain the rules: “Now, we’re going to play the mixed-up game. This time, we can match by shape, color, or number. When it’s your turn, I’ll decide if I want you to match by shape, color, or number.”
  • Call out the matching criterion and let the child draw a card. Help them sort according to your instructions.
  • If no match is found, allow your child to take another turn.
  • On your turn, ask your child, “Should I match by color, shape, or number?”

Talk & Reflect:

Discuss challenges and strategies with your child. Ask questions like:

  • “What did you have to remember before you matched your card?”
  • “Was it hard to change what we were looking for each time in the mixed-up game?”

Additional Ideas & Resources:

  • Add new challenges like “match all circles to the red card and squares to the green card.”
  • Let older preschoolers manage the cards, adding extra responsibility.
  • Integrate learning subjects into cards (science, social studies, literacy).
  • Practice literacy by matching picture cards to the letter that the picture begins with (e.g., beginning sounds).

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