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Adapting the Game Concentration



Reviving Reviews: 
                          Refreshing Ideas Students Can't Resist

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  • K-2
  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12


Brief Description

Adapt the game of Concentration to hundreds of skills. Ideas, puzzle sources included.



Students will
  • use the format of the TV game show Concentration to practice/reinforce a wide variety of skills.
  • create their own Concentration games for the class to play.



Concentration, game, skills, practice, reinforce, reinforcement, Popsicle stick, math, Constitution, capitals, homonyms, synonyms, spelling, misspell, antonyms, opposites


Materials Needed

  • white craft paper
  • 3- by 5-inch index cards
  • 3- by 5-inch sticky notes
  • prizes (optional)


Lesson Plan

This lesson adapts the TV game "Concentration" to most any subject.

Before the Lesson
Gather thirty 3- by 5-inch index cards. Create 15 questions/problems that relate to your latest unit of study. Write each problem or question on a card in large print. Write the answer to each question on another card. With a little creative thought, this activity can be adapted to almost any subject area or teaching theme. (See Concentration Across the Curriculum below.)

Arrange the cards in random order in 6 rows of 5 cards on a bulletin board. Then place a large (3- by 5-inch) sticky note on top of each card. Number the sticky notes in order from 1 to 30 to look like the board from the Concentration TV game show.

Start the game by calling the name of a student. You might use the Popsicle stick method of calling on students. (See Popsicle Stick Method below.) That will help keep all students focused on the game. The game continues in this way:

  • The student calls out a number.
  • Lift the sticky note with that number on it to reveal a question or an answer.
  • If a question is under that sticky note, students call out another number under which they hope to find the matching answer; if the number they called out reveals an answer underneath, students call out another number under which they hope to find the matching question.
  • If the cards under the two numbers reveal a matching question and answer, then the student earns 1 point. If the cards do not match, the sticky note with the number on it is returned to its spot and all students do their best to recall what question or answer was revealed under each number so when they're called on, they will be able to make a match.
  • Keep playing until all matches have been revealed.

Concentration Across the Curriculum
Following are just ten -- out of thousands of -- ideas for adapting the Concentration game to review skills across the curriculum:

  • Adapt for any kind of math skill you are teaching -- from addition facts to algebraic equations. Write the problem on one card, the answer on another.
  • If you are studying phonics, write the word on one card, its phonetic spelling on another.
  • For a book you are reading aloud, match the names of different characters with a statement that tells something about that character.
  • In chemistry, match the chemical symbol with the name of the element. For example, H matches hydrogen, Ag matches gold, and so on.
  • If you are teaching students to tell time, have them match the card that shows the time on a clock face with the card that shows the time in digital format (for example, 7:45). Or match the digital form to the words that tell the time (for example, quarter to 8).
  • Use this week's vocabulary words. Students match each word card with its definition card. Another idea: If you teach a foreign language, have students match a vocabulary word in that language with its English translation.
  • Studying the U.S. Constitution? Match the Amendment numbers with the freedoms they created.
  • Homonyms can make a fun theme for a game. Match there with their, hour with our, I with eye, and so on. (Other ideas: match synonyms or antonyms.)
  • In geography, match a state or country with its capital.
  • To check spelling, match two words that clearly attempt to spell the same word. For example, school and skool or mispell and misspell. Students match the two words, then tell the one that is spelled correctly. (Resources: See Commonly Misspelled Words, Commonly Misspelled Words in English, or Spelling Test for word lists.)
  • Are you teaching about inventors in science class? Match the name of the inventor with his or her invention.

Just think of all the skills you could incorporate into a game of Concentration!

Popsicle Stick Method
To use this popular method of selecting kids, simply write each student's name on a Popsicle stick and place the sticks in a jar or can. Draw a stick; the person whose name is on the stick responds next.

Note: In a game such as this one, you do not want to lose students' attention once they have been called on. If their Popsicle stick is selected and you leave it out of the can after they have responded, they have no stake in paying attention to the game after they have had their turn. However, if you return their stick to the can, they know they have as much chance as anybody else does to be called on again.

More Thoughts & Tips

  • To make the cards as neat and readable as possible, create them with a word processing program. Use a large font, then print, and trim to 3- by 5-inch card size.
  • Of course, each time a match is made on the TV game show, two more pieces of a rebus puzzle are revealed under the game cards. If you are really ambitious you could create and draw a puzzle to appear under the game cards. The puzzle could be related to the skill the game teaches, or it could be unrelated. Each time students locate a matching set of cards, two new pieces of the puzzle are revealed. That student has an opportunity to guess the puzzle. The student who guesses the puzzle might receive a special prize.
  • Of course, the easiest way to create puzzles is to buy the Concentration game. You might find some puzzle ideas in the game cards that you could recreate on a bulletin board.
  • You might introduce two Wild Cards! into the game. Just like on the TV game show, these cards produce an instant match and a point for the person who reveals them. (If you use wild cards, you will only need 14 pairs of question and answer cards.)
  • You might leave the Concentration board as a permanent fixture in your classroom. You could change the theme and the game cards every week or two. That way, students can play the game -- for more skills practice -- during rainy day recesses or at other times.
  • You could even add a job to your classroom jobs list. The person who has the "Concentration board" job might move some of the cards around each day and be responsible for putting up new game cards whenever you produce a new game related to a new skill.
  • Store each edition of the game cards in an envelope labeled with the skill the game teaches. Keep them all in a "Concentration" file so you can use them from year to year, or repost an old game from time to time. If you use rebus puzzles, store the puzzles in a separate folder.
  • Let a different student serve as emcee each time the game is played. That student can select Popsicle sticks to determine which student's turn it is, and reveal the puzzle questions and answers. (You can sit off to the side and correct papers!)
  • After your students are familiar with the game, why not put them to work creating Concentration game cards -- and even rebus puzzles -- that the entire class can play? (A fun extension activity for students who always finish their work early!) Have a team of students create a game. Check their work and have them make editing revisions before creating the actual game cards. The students who create the puzzles can serve as emcees when it is time to play their game.



The winner of the game earns a prize.


Lesson Plan Source

Education World


Submitted By

Gary Hopkins


National Standards

This activity can be adapted for use in almost every subject and for almost any skill.

Click to return to this week's lessons, Reviving Reviews: Refreshing Ideas Students Can't Resist.

Originally published 03/28/2003
Last updated 04/29/2009