An aspect of right brain training involves the development of photographic memory (also known as instant memory). Thus, my stash of right brain home practice materials includes the magnetic instant memory board. As the name suggests, it’s essentially a board with magnetic pieces.
Selling price ranges around $20-$30 online.
Recommended age as stated on the box is 2-6 years old. A 1 year old can also use it under supervision.
There are a total of 60 magnetic pieces (2 sets of 30) and 2 identical magnetic boards. The magnetic pieces measure 1.5″ x 1.5″ and each board consists of a 3 x 4 grid.
Contents of the magnetic pieces include 6 pieces from 5 different categories: numbers, animals, modes of transportation, fruits and colours.
The set also includes a set of cards suggesting how the pieces can be placed.
How to use the boards
There are 2 identical boards in the set. One board is meant for the parent, and the other for the child. The board can be used in multiple ways for right brain training: for photographic memory, spatial memory and linking memory.
Instant /Photographic memory
Objective: The child needs to recall the pictures flashed on the board
For young toddlers (1 year old), the parent can start with 2 pieces placed on the magnetic board in a straight line. The board with the pieces is shown to the child for 3seconds. The child is then handed 2 pieces of his own, and he is supposed to replicate what he saw on his board. As the child gets more proficient, the duration for which the board is flashed, and the number of pieces shown can be varied.
Objective: The child needs to recall the arrangement of pictures placed in a matrix
For older children (3 and above), the parent can start by placing pictures in a 2×2 array. The child is to replicate the pattern. The array can be increased (2×3, 3×3…) according to the child’s progress.
Linking memory (also known as story memory)
Objective: To recall the sequence of a set of unrelated pictures using a story-telling technique
This technique is taught in right brain training schools such as Shichida. Starting with a set of 4 pieces (e.g. PINEAPPLE-CAR-BLUE-PIG), the parent tells a funny story to link the pictures in sequence (e.g. One day, a PINEAPPLE driving a CAR bumped into a BLUE PIG). The story is repeated. Then the parent identifies the pictures (PINEAPPLE-CAR-BLUE-PIG) and the child is then given a set of pictures to be placed in the correct sequence.
As the child progresses, the number of pieces is increased (typically 10 pieces for a 3 year old).
After the correct sequence is achieved, the pieces can also be placed faced down in order, and the child is to flip open the corresponding picture, e.g. when the parent calls out the name “BLUE”.
Some other games that I play using the board (both right and left brain activities) with 18 month old G and 5 year old C:
Sorting (with G)
Using the 2 boards, I place a picture of an animal (e.g.PIG) on one board, and a vehicle (e.g. CAR) on the other. I then hand him the other pieces of belonging to the 2 categories, and ask him to place it on the corresponding boards.
Colour matching (with G)
Some of the cards can be used for colour sorting, for example, the car, the number 4, the apple can be grouped under the colour red.
Spot the difference (with C)
I place a random array of 10 pieces on one board, and flash it to C. I then change one of the pieces and ask her to identify the piece that was changed. A variation is to remove or add a piece and identify the missing/additional piece that was placed.
I spy (with C)
When C gets bored doing linking memory, I sometimes play “I spy” with C. For example on a board with the giraffe, lion and cat, I will say “I spy with my little eye, an animal that is herbivorous” (she has learnt about them as part of our homeschool activities)
What I don’t like
The magnetic pieces are actually laminated cards on foam, mounted on a magnetic sheet. If G is left alone with it, I think it would not stand up to a lot of abuse. There is also a limited number of magnetic pieces in this set. In addition, instructions are in chinese, so for non-chinese speaking users this could pose a problem (but you can refer to the explanations above :))
What I like
The magnetic set is light and easy to transport. Being magnetic, it means that the pieces will not slide off the board, which makes it ideal for road trips too. The price is also reasonable, and I like the versatility of usage.
This versatile board is worth the price, and the quality is reasonable (of course younger children should not be left alone with it). With the number of pieces, it is possible to come up with more than 1000 combinations (mathematical permutation) so it would last for quite a while. Of course, when the child progresses to doing 50 cards in linking memory, the board would no longer be useful, but the pieces can still be used. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to add on to their right brain home practice materials 🙂
p/s there is a new version with a bigger board and more pieces available, but it comes at a slightly higher price.