Pelmanism Games for Children

Updated April 17, 2017

More than 100 years ago, British psychologist Louis Pelman developed a system of memory training that now forms the basis of today's Pelmanism games. These games can lead to hours of enjoyment for children of all ages. Keep a few of these cards up your sleeve, and you'll have entertainment at the ready on those days when your children need to be indoors.

The Original

Use a deck of cards that contains identical pairs of shapes, numbers or pictures. Lay all the cards face down on a flat surface and in a neat rectangular format, then flip over two cards. The object of the game is to turn over a pair of matching cards. When a player wins a pair, he gets to take another turn. Also known as Concentration, this game can be played with any number of players.

Best for the Young Ones

Playing with matching colour pairs is especially good for little children. The object of the game does not require them to be able to read or determine anything other than, for example, pairing yellow with yellow or red with red, so frustration levels are kept low. Also keep the numbers of card pairs to six, then increase to 10 and so on as greater challenge is needed.


Once children get the idea of remember-and-match, there are several versions of the original game that can be played. Try One Flip, where players who win a pair of matching cards do not go again until their next turn. Using a regular deck of cards can make it harder: the version Zebra only allows a match to be made by cards that are not only the same colour but the same number too, for example three of spades has to match three of clubs, not just any three. You can also play with two decks, making for a longer and more difficult game that requires matching a pair of each of the 52 cards. There is also a version known as Spaghetti, where the cards from a deck are randomly thrown on the floor. Finding the card pairs becomes more difficult when the cards are not arranged in a neat rectangular pattern, however there will be some cards that land face up, which will make finding those pairs easier.

Virtual Pelmanism

Computerise your game. Older children may enjoy the challenge of the same game online. The advantage here is that you can click your way to countless and greater challenges: different levels, numbers and symbols. Another plus is that a game can be played solitaire.

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About the Author

Natasha Mian began writing professionally in 1998 for the BBC in both news and features programming. She specializes in showing other professionals how to write for their market, from broadcast copy to online presence. Mian holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Liverpool in her native United Kingdom,