"How to Build Educational Memory Games in PowerPoint"

PowerPoint Games For Teachers: Interactive Memory Game

In this advanced PowerPoint animation post I’ll show you how to make fun PowerPoint games for your classroom using a combination of triggers and animations.

Even if you are not a teacher, I highly recommend adding this  trick to your toolkit as this advanced animations trick opens up a new fun world of games and interactivity!

If you don’t have the time to work through this tutorial now and need something quickly, you can click here to download the finished memory game PowerPoint template here.

Interactive Flashcard Game

For the flashcards, you put the “question” on the top side and the “answer” on the bottom side.  As a simple example, if you’re making Spanish flashcards, you might put “Man” on the question side and “Hombre” on the answer side.

For this tutorial, I’ll use PowerPoint shortcuts, as it’s very useful to remember those! This is also the same technique you can use to create other fun PowerPoint games.

 Download this finished slide

Interactive Memory Game

For the memory game, you put both the question and answer (or the matching pairs) on the bottom side so you can try to match them together when you’re flipping over.

In this case, I’ve used some cute symbols for the matches, but you can use anything you like to fit with your own game or exercise. When done well, this can be a great interactive PowerPoint game for kids.

Steps for Creating the Interactive Memory Game

There are three basic steps to creating the memory game in PowerPoint:

  • Make your cards
  • Add animations
  • Add triggers

Click here to download the finished memory game slide.

Step #1: Create Your Framework

This first part to creating a PowerPoint game is fairly easy.  Just create a bunch of rectangles on the slide.  Do this by first going to Insert -> Shapes, then select and draw the rectangle.

Fill it in with any color or gradient or picture fill you like by clicking on the Format menu, then going to Shape Fill and choosing a color, a gradient, or a picture fill.  Then, copy/paste (CTRL + C / CTRL + V) or duplicate (CTRL + D) it several times – I did a set of 12 here.

Make sure everything is aligned well (use the guides if you have PowerPoint 2013, or use the Arrange -> Align tools).  This set of rectangles will be the part of the card that’s face down (i.e. the bottom, or Answer side), so these won’t be shown until a card is flipped over.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 1 Framework - 1

Now that you have the above done, make a copy, or duplicate, the whole slide (CTRL + D), and then go back to the original.  This’ll come in handy in a little bit.

At this point, you need to decide which type of PowerPoint game you are creating. Are you making a flashcard like game (the same technique for PowerPoint Jeopardy) or are you making a memory game?

If you’re making flashcards, then write the “answers” to your flashcards on each of these cards.  Since I’m making PPT shortcut flashcards, I’ll write my shortcuts here.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 1 Framework -2

Ok, go to the copy of the slide that you just made.   This will be the front of your card, or the “question” side – it will be the side that’s showing before you click anywhere.  Change the color of the cards to differentiate from the other side.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 1 Framework -3

At this point, I’ll write the “questions” on each of these cards – in my case, these will be the command that I want the shortcuts to do, such as changing the font size or rotating an object.  Below is my set of “question cards” filled in.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 1 Framework -4

Below is a summary view of both sides of the flashcards.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 1 Framework -5

Note that if you’re making a  PowerPoint memory game, you want to put both the “question” and the “answer” (or the matching pairs) on the back side – you can either put question marks on the front or leave that side blank, like in the example below.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 1 Framework -6

Step #2: Animating the Flash Cards

Now let’s animate our flashcards.  There are a few different ways to do this, but here’s my favorite.

First, let’s go to our yellow “answer” cards and select all of them (CTRL + A), then add a Stretch entrance animation.  Do this by first going to the Animation Tab, then going to Add Animation, then going to More Entrance Effects, and scrolling down to Stretch – hit OK.

NOTE:  If you are using an older version of PowerPoint that does not have the Stretch effect available, you can use the Split entrance effect instead (just make sure it’s set to Vertical Out, so the left and right sides stretch out together) – this won’t look as smooth but it will still be ok.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 2 Animate - 1

Now go to the front slide, with the blue “question” cards.  Select all of them (CTRL + A) and then add a Collapse exit animation.  Just like we did before, go to the Animations Tab, then to More Exit Effects, then select Collapse and hit OK.

Again, if you are using an earlier version of PowerPoint, choose the Split exit effect.  Make sure it goes into the middle horizontally (Vertical In).

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 2 Animate -2

Now that we have the animations set on both sets of cards, let’s put these together.  Take the blue front cards, select all of them (CTRL + A), then cut (CTRL + X) and paste (CTRL + V) on top of the yellow back cards.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 2 Animate -3

At this point, select all the animations (click on an animation and hit CTRL + A).  Then, set the timing on everything to start After Previous and make the duration of everything .25 seconds.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 2 Animate -4

Finally, select all the exit effects (click on the first one, hold SHIFT, then click on the last one) and drag them up to be above the entrance effects.  The final result should look like this:

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 2 Animate -5

Great – you’re now ready for the triggers.  Get into a patient mood, as this can be tedious if you have a lot of cards (you will need to make 2 triggers for every card you have – so I had to do this 24 times!).  But after you’re done, you’ll be really happy with your work – and you can reuse your creation again and again in the future.  Ready?  Let’s jump in.

Step #3: Create the Triggers

Now it’s time to make the triggers!

It’s actually pretty easy – you just have to do it numerous times to make it all work.  From your Animation Pane, right click on the top animation, which should be the top left blue card (which says Cut, Copy, Paste, Duplicate in my case).  When the dialogue box comes up, click on Timing.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -1

From the Timing box, go down to Triggers and click on “start effect on click of” and from the drop-down menu, scroll down to the Cut, Copy, Paste, Duplicate option (make sure that this is the same rectangle that had the animation you clicked on).

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -2

Now what this trigger does is it flips the top part of the card when you click it in presentation mode.  To have the bottom part of the card (the one that says “CTRL + X / CTRL + C / CTRL + V / CTRL + D”) come up correctly, you’ll now need to have the bottom card’s animation occur right after this trigger.

So the bottom card’s animation will be the very first entrance effect in your Animation Pane (mouse over it to make sure you have the right one) – take and drag it to just below the trigger that you’ve just created.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -3

Test your work by going to presentation mode and clicking on the rectangle – the top should contract and the bottom should expand right after, creating a cool flip effect.  If it doesn’t work somehow, check to make sure that the object of the trigger is the same one that has the exit animation and that the entrance animation is the card that’s right underneath.

If it works, great job!  Now you can do this for the rest of the cards.  Repeat the process, adding a trigger to all of the exit effects from the top cards, then dragging the entrances of the respective bottom cards underneath.  After you’ve done multiple ones, your animation pane should look something like this:

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -4

Once you’re done adding triggers to all the top cards – congrats, you’re halfway there!  Now we have to repeat the process again with the bottom cards.  This time, we’re exactly reversing the process – making the bottom cards have the trigger and the exit effect, and the top cards follow with the entrance effect.

Select all of the blue top cards by holding CTRL and individually clicking on them (don’t just Select All because it will grab the bottom cards as well, which you don’t want).  Once they’re all selected, we need to add an additional entrance animation to them, so again, go to the Animations tab, click on Add Animation, then go to More Entrance Effects and click on Stretch.  Hit OK.  Now make sure they’re also at .25 duration and start After Previous.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -5

Now with all of the top cards still selected (or select them again if needed), right click and choose Send to Back, then Send to Back again.  Now all the yellow cards should be showing.

Note:  An alternative way to do this is by using the Selection Pane and hiding all of the blue top cards so you can work with only the yellow bottom cards.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -6

Select all of the yellow cards now by again holding CTRL and clicking on each one.  Then, just like we did before, go to the Animations tab, then click on Add Animation, go to More Exit Effects and select Collapse.  Hit OK.  Again, if you have an earlier version of PowerPoint, just add a Split exit effect instead.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -7

Again, make sure that these new exit are .25 seconds in duration, too.

Now repeat the process of adding triggers.  Select the top exit effect out of the new ones you just added (it should again be the top left, or the card that says “CTRL + X , CTRL + C, CTRL + V, CTRL + D) Right click, and go to Timing.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -8

In the Timing menu, under Triggers, again click on the “Start Effect on Click of” option and find the rectangle that matches the one from your animation – in this case, it’s the card that says “CTRL + X , CTRL + C, CTRL + V, CTRL + D”, the same one that corresponds to the exit animation.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -9

Now you have your second trigger for this bottom card.  The final step is to again drag the corresponding top card animation, which you just created a bit ago, underneath it.  This ensures that the card will flip back to its original position when the bottom card is clicked.

Interactive Trigger Animation Step 3 Create the Triggers -10

Repeat this process until you have another set of triggers for the bottom cards – so for every card, you should have 2 trigger sets.  Therefore, for these cards, I have 24 in total.

After you’re done, breathe a sigh of relief, go to Presentation Mode, and enjoy your work!

PowerPoint Memory Game Wrap Up

So that’s the basic process for how to make PowerPoint Games.

And although working with triggers to create games in PowerPoint requires some patience, in the end it’s worth it as you get to sit back and play with your creation.

You can use these techniques to create a variety of fun PowerPoint games like PowerPoint jeopardy, interactive flash cards or other fun memory games that you can use to engage your students and make your classrooms more interactive.

Once you’re done, make sure to save a copy of your game that you can use as a PowerPoint template in the future. That way you only need to tweak what you’ve already created, instead of rebuiling the entire game from scratch.

Have a way you think you’ll use this new trick? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear it!

  • Rehamsarhan

    I made 24 triggers but how can i arrange the 4 triggers for every card and how can i control the flip effect ????i
    Please tell me i was so patient to make 24 triggers even though it was not easy for me . I wanna contiue …..

  • Rehamsarhan

    I finally did it i’m so happy it was really so interesting even though it required alot of patience but at last i made something very useful that creates engaging learning environments in class with my students , many thanks pretty Lia .
    I’m grateful

  • guest

    Hi Lia — I posted this comment on your youtube channel as well. In a matching game, how do I make a positive acknowledgement for a correct match. (Like play applause or show a green checkmark?)

    • Clive Rowland

      I want to do this too, but I dont think its possible within basic powerpoint functions. You could add a button under each cell, or even 2 buttons which could add a team colour or similar.

  • Doreen

    Lia.. I am making questions to go with the memory game and I am linking them together. For instance. I ask a question, they get it wrong it takes them to a slide that has a button to [try again] which when clicked brings them back to the questions slide. When they are right they get a button that says [game board] which they click and go to the game board. once they make their selection to match and I want to keep their choices if they are right and go to the next question, how do I make their choices stay on the game board.

    • spicypresentations

      Hi Doreen – just seeing this now, sorry! You’ve probably already made your game, but to get advanced features like this (in terms of keeping their answers only if they are right) you will probably need to use VBA code as part of your PPT. However, one simple way to do this is to use hyperlinks on your gameboard that turn a different color once clicked. that way, when you come back to the gameboard, the questions that have already been clicked are of a different color. HOpe that helps for your next project!

  • Marcie

    Is there any way of using this memory game and its animations in a Facebook event.

    • spicypresentations

      Hi Marcie – I’m not sure that you can export directly to Facebook on the platform, but it would certainly make a cool game AT the event! 🙂

  • spicypresentations

    Sounds like an interesting game, and seems like it could work, with the right combination of triggers! I’d probably need more specific info to give more details, but you sound like you’re on the right track!

  • Hamish

    I spent a long time creating a battleship game in PowerPoint for educators of English. Feel free to use this game at your school, or even at home with your children. Please try it and give me feedback letting me know how it worked and if you have any suggestions for improvements etc… http://kiwias.weebly.com ….. follow the link, at the top of the page is the PowerPoint file which you can click onto open. Instructions on how to play the game are given below the file.

    Thank you kindly! Enjoy!

    • spicypresentations

      Hi Hamish – sorry, am just seeing your message now. The link no longer works. If you want to email it to spicy@nutsandboltsspeedtraining.com, I can take a look. Thank you for sharing!

  • chopsooy

    Thanks so much. Any ideas how to make the matching pairs disappear when successfully found? I was going to add a small picture that makes the card disappear when clicked but then the other side of the card would remain and seems too much to get people to click 4 cards to get them all to disappear for one successful match. Really happy I took the time to do this it’s worked well. Thanks again.

    • spicypresentations

      Hi there – really glad you’ve enjoyed this effect! Yes, that’s a pretty tough challenge, as you’d have to do some programming in POwerPOint to really make it work. The only (not great) workaround I can think of is to have a checklist out on the side somewhere of each pair. So once you find the pairs, you click the checkmark that corresponds to the shapes, then both shapes would disappear from the side. That way, the people going through get a feeling of satisfaction of checking things off the list, plus you close both cards with just one click. Does that help? Thanks for the question!

  • Audrey

    thanks for sharing this awesome slide and instruction! It’s pretty useful:-)

    • spicypresentations

      Thanks, Audrey – glad you enjoyed!

  • Sonia

    You save my life! this is awesome!!!!

  • Asma

    Hey, thanks for this brief and sufficient explanation. Never thought that I could be able to do it, but I actually did 🙂