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Working Memory

Updated: Jun 15

Individuals with dyslexia often seem to have a poor working memory. Working memory allows you to retain a small amount of information for a short amount of time to complete a task. Below are a few suggestions and activities that can be done in the classroom or at home to help improve working memory.

Suggestions:

  • Break large tasks into smaller parts

  • Use eye contact when giving instructions and have the child repeat back

  • Start by only giving one instruction at a time

  • Provide a daily routine

  • Use multiple ways to explain a concept and check for understanding

Working memory game

‘I went to the shop and I bought…’.

Taking turns, say ‘I went to the shop and I bought’ and add an item, for example ‘an apple’. The next person should say ‘I went to the shop and I bought an apple and…’ (add a new item) and so on. Depending on ability, you may choose to help or allow a second chance. If you feel the need to make this more difficult, use adjectives when choosing items. For example, ‘I went to the shop and I bought a juicy apple’.

Competitive option: a person is ‘out’ if they forget an item or if they do not say the items in the correct order. The ‘winner’ is the person who gets the whole shopping list correct and in the correct order.


Working memory activity

Explain that you are going to read a story aloud. A way to help you to remember when you are listening to a speaker is to visualise what the person is saying. That is, making a picture in your head about what you are hearing.

Instructions: ‘Listen to me read a story aloud. Visualise, or make a picture in your head, about what I describe. I will ask you to draw a picture of the story when I finish. It may help you to close your eyes.

Jane decided it was time to buy a new dress. She looked in the shop window. She saw a yellow dress. It had green and red flowers on it. She thought it would suit her so she walked into the shop and bought it.

You will need a blank sheet of paper, crayons or colouring pencils. Make sure each set of colours has a green, red and yellow.


Working memory activity

‘One, two, three, four’

Have a discussion about how to listen and concentrate: Posture, Listening, Concentration and Behaviour

Rules:

Explain that you are going to give an instruction and then say ‘go’. The child/ children listen to the instruction and after they hear the word ‘go’, they carry out the instruction. There are four levels in the game. Level 1 is one instruction; Level 2 is two instructions; Level 3 is three instructions; Level 4 is four instructions.

Level 1 Level 2

Clap your hands, go Close your eyes, rub your belly, go

Place your hands on your head, go Lift your leg, tap your head, go

Touch your nose, go Raise your hand, stand up, go

Close your eyes, go Stand up, turn around, go

Touch your chin, go Put your hands on your lap, nod your head, go

Level 3

Stand up, turn around, sit down, go

Stamp your feet, raise your hands, close your eyes, go

Rub your belly, shake your hands, touch your knees, go

Wriggle your fingers, touch your ears, straighten your legs, go

Nod your head, wriggle your arms, stand up, go

Level 4

Stand up, turn around, jump up, sit down, go

Clap your hands, touch your ears, nod your head, touch your nose, go

Scratch your head, straighten your legs, touch your chin, nod your head, go

Stomp your feet, wriggle your fingers, stand up, sit down, go

Clap your hands, lift your leg, close your eyes, put your hands on your lap, go