|Memorizing and recognizing the Presidents.|
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I have been asked several times how I do memory work, so I thought I would write a post about it. I have also been asked why I do it. Memory Work, in my opinion is a very important part of education. It is otherwise known as "rote memorization" which in public education and some homeschool circles are dirty words! Who knew making your kids memorize things could be so controversial?
When I attended elementary school in the seventies, I learned a lot of things by memorization and they still stick with me today. I know from my own personal experience with memorization that it works. I think of it as training the brain. Have you heard the term "stuck in a rut" before? While that typically has a negative connotation, it is the visual I get when it comes to memory work. Traveling the same path over and over makes a rut that isn't easy to get out of. I picture information that is stuck in that rut, but in a good way.
I don't know why memory work gets such a bad rap. Somewhere along the line an expert decided it was a bad thing and then millions of people went along with it. To me, it makes perfect sense and I daresay it goes with the way God designed our stages of development. Think about when our children were babies and we started talking to them. Did you not say many of the same things over and over to them so they would learn? What about the ABC's? Noodle learned them because we sang the ABC song ad nauseum. He had no idea what any of the letters he was singing actually looked like until I introduced him to Leapfrog's, The Letter Factory. He could count to ten before he knew what the numbers looked like. He had the ABC's and 123's memorized before he was ever introduced to what they were. That is memory work.
What about God's word? How do we write it on our hearts? By memorizing it. The times tables? We memorized them. How do we know what year Columbus arrived on the shores of America? Because many of us memorized rhyme, In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Why can you go to your grocery store for one item and make a beeline to it without thinking about it? Because you have bought that item many times before and barring a store remodel, it will be in the same place each time you go to purchase it. Why do I know every word to all Rick Springfield's songs? Because my girlfriend and I sung them over and over and over in to a hairbrush while dancing on her coffee table. Yes, yes we did.
We spend time every day working on memory work. Noodle actually enjoys it and he gets a great sense of satisfaction when he can recite a poem from memory or spout off the names of the Presidents in order. He smiles when he has gone through a whole recitation without error and I can tell he feels pleased with himself. Memory work builds his confidence. Kids come naturally by it too. Think about the things they know about that you don't give a hoot about. I knew a guy in high school who knew the name, position and stats of what seemed like every baseball player that ever lived! Our brains are designed to memorize.
Do we sometimes memorize things that may never matter unless Noodle is on a game show someday? Maybe, but I don't care. I believe he should be exposed to a wide range of topics, and memory work allows that to happen. He may not understand all that he is memorizing, but it really doesn't matter to me because I know as he gets older and breadth becomes depth, he will make a lot of connections and the knowledge will stick with him because of those light bulb moments he will experience.
We work on one topic at a time for each subject. Right now for Math Noodle is still working on upper times tables - 9 to 15 (Eventually we are going up to 20). For Language Arts he is memorizing several things since it encompasses so much - the prepositions, poems (one at a time), parts of speech and spelling rules. History and Geography - he already has the Presidents memorized along with all the states and capitals. He is now working on countries and the history timeline using the Veritas Press Timeline cards. For science we are working on the animal classifications.
You might be asking, "Where do I start? What should my children memorize?" I say, anything you want them to! That said, below are some ideas to start with. Don't get hung up or concerned if you don't have super short people anymore - it is never too late to begin memory work.
ABC's, vowels, consonants, upper and lower case letter recognition
123's - counting up to 100
Days of the Week
Months of the Year
The Lord's Prayer
Pledge of Allegiance
First Grade through Adult
Books of the Bible
Addition and Subtraction Fact Families
Times Tables up to 15 (or 20!)
Fractions and Decimal equivalents
Metric Volume Measures
Liquid Volume Measures
Measures of Length
Five Themes of Geography
States and Capitals (names and location)
Continents and Oceans
Preamble to the Constitution
Branches of Government and their functions
Declaration of Independence
U.S. Mountain Ranges
Countries (names and locations)
The Great Lakes
Timeline of Wars
Egyptian and Chinese Dynasties
Poetry and Nursery Rhymes
Types of Poems
Literary Terms - metaphors, similes, etc.
Parts of Speech Definitions
Common Greek and Latin Prefixes
Spelling and Phonics Rules
Types of Sentences
Acronyms - like NASA, OPEC, ROM, ZIP code, NATO etc.
Phases of the Moon - by name and by sight
Parts of a Microscope
Types of Forests
Leaves and Leaf Parts
Animal Classification System
Parts of a Flower
Human Body Systems
Parts of the Heart
Parts of the Earth
Parts of the Atmosphere
Types of Clouds
Famous Scientists and what they did
Famous Artists and recognizing their works by sight
Famous Composers and recognizing their pieces by sound
Shakespeare Titles and basic plot lines
There are probably a million more things you and your children could memorize and if you think of them, go for it!
My favorite books for Memory Work are the Everything You Need To Know series and the Kingfisher Encyclopedias. You could also just Google memory work ideas and find a lot of things for free. I like the books because they are pretty comprehensive and all in one spot for easy access.