Sunday, February 12, 2012

Go Fish & Memory

Go Fish
What kid can say no to Go Fish?  Please, read the entire first paragraph before printing!

Download the file below and print off the pdf file four times (you need a set of four identical cards to make a match).  I suggest that you print on card stock or thick paper so that the players cannot see through each others' cards.  You could also print on regular paper and glue it onto cardboard (like empty cereal boxes).

You can play this game to practice sounds or characters.  If you are practicing your 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn) or 注音符 sounds, keep in mind that you do not need to play the game with all the sounds in the language.  My preference is to use 5 sounds that my child knows very well with 2-3 sounds that s/he need to work on.  I'll use a total of about 8 sounds/sets, which makes about 32 cards.  Cut out the sounds that you are going to play with and set the others aside for another day.

  • Use the "Go Fish-Blank" file to create your own sets.  For example, for whatever vocabulary you are currently working on.  Remember to print the file enough times to make 4 copies of each word. 
    • Consider whether you want to include the pronunciation on the cards.
  • When considering how many sets to use (one set is 4 identical cards), keep in mind your child's age and skill level.  
    • Young children may have a difficult time holding many cards.  Check out how to turn an egg carton into a card holder (see picture).
    • Mix challenging vocabulary (new) with mastered/familiar vocabulary (old).  This way your child can succeed sometimes and enjoy the game while still being challenged to use the new vocabulary to play.

Go Fish-ㄅㄆㄇ
Go Fish-Blank

How to Play:  Shuffle the cards and give each player 5 cards (you can use less cards if you have only a few cards in the deck).  Spread the remaining cards face down on the table between the players.  The first player can ask one person (anyone who is playing) if they have a ____ card; however, the first player can only ask for a card that they already have in his/her hand.  If the person asked has the card, s/he must give all the cards of that type to the first player.  If the person asked does not have the card, s/he tells the first player "Go Fish."  The first player than selects one of the cards that is face down on the table and it is the next person's turn.  Continue playing clockwise around the table.  When a person has 4 identical cards, they have a match and set the match down next to them.  The game ends when someone matches all the cards in their hand and no longer has any cards.  The winner is the person with the most matches.

  • Do you have ______?  
    • 你有沒 _______?
    • Ni3 you3 mei2 you3 _____?
  • I have it.  有.
    • You3.
  • I don't have it.  Go Fish.   
    • .  Go Fish.
    •  Mei2 you3.

Use the same files as for Go Fish, but you only need 2 sets of cards.
 How to Play: Shuffle the cards and then turn all the cards face down, so that you can't see the pictures.  Take turns trying to find the matches.  The first player turns over any two cards.  If he/she turns over two cards that go together, he/she can keep that pair and take another turn.  If he/she turns over two cards that don't go together, then he/she turns the two cards face down again after the players have seen them.  Then it's another player's turn.  The player who has the most pairs when all the cards are gone wins the game.  Note: ask the players to say the name of the card each time it is flipped over.  This helps with recall later and is great practice for pronunciation.

 Memory 2
You will need to make your own cards for this version.  Write a list of two-word phrases such as:

小狗(xiǎo gǒu, dog),  (shuì jiào, to sleep), and (diàn nǎo, computer).  Next, from this list write only one character on each Memory tile so that you split each two-word phrase in half.

How to Play: Be sure the learners are familiar with each two-word phrase.  If needed, keep the list handy to refer to throughout the game.  Shuffle the cards and then turn all the cards face down, so that you can't see the characters.  Take turns trying to find the right combination of tiles to make the two-word phrases.  Proceed just as you would for a normal memory game.  Bonus:  ask the players to make a sentence using the two-word phrase they turned over.  Extra Bonus:  Can the learner make a sentences using two or more of the two-word phrases they uncover?

Thank you 登蔭 for introducing me to this alternative Memory Game!


  1. Kids love Go Fish! I've played it with rhyming words in English with first and second graders ("Do you have anything that rhymes with with 'cat'?" "Yes, here are my cards with 'rat' and 'bat.'"

    Since my four-year-old has trouble holding playing cards, I made a sort of stand for him by cutting a slit at the bottom of each cup of an egg carton. He turns the carton over, inserts the cards, and then can see them all at once.

  2. Thanks for the egg carton suggestion, Sarah. You idea has been added to the blog!