Backward Sentences

Backward sentences is a great memory game for a party but can be played just about anywhere. There’s no setup involved, so it can be a great distraction for a long car ride.

Number of players: 2+
Ages: 7+

To begin play, one player takes the job of leader. One by one, the players repeat a phrase or sentence given by the leader. Then the fun begins. When each player has repeated the phrase or sentence, the players then take turn repeating the sentence again, except this time they have to do it backwards.

These should start simply, and if you’re playing with younger children, it should stay simple. For example, it’s not difficult to repeat phrases like “Jack and Jill” or “Mary ate an apple” backwards. For an older crowd though, the leader can throw out longer phrases.

The leader can start with an easy sentence, then build up to more complex sentences that get harder and harder to remember backwards. If you’re a leader, here’s a great trick. Throw in a compound word or two, such woodchuck, bedroom or somersault, and even the best memories start to falter.

It’s best to use a lot of similar words in a sentence, and if you can top that off with a compound word, it’s bound to be a winner. One of my favorite game-enders is “Two wooden woodchucks wouldn’t chuck wood.” Players usually try to break up a compound word and miss the sequence. When a player misses a sequence, they’re eliminated, or have to pay a forfeit.
The play then passes to the next person, who gets the same phrase.

One great variation on the game is to have a backward spelling match. This is easy on simple words; difficult on long words, or with words with unusual spelling.