Friday, February 6, 2015

An Update on our Memory Books

It's been a few years since I posted about our memory book. Last fall I revised our system a little and have been pleased with the results so I thought I would share.

Now that I have three students working in memorization, I found it easier to make a separate binder for each one. The binders do not have to be very large, but the sturdier the better. These binders get a lot of daily use.

I bought a bunch of sets of these Avery Translucent Durable Write-On Plastic Dividers. In each binder, I have eleven dividers:
  • Daily
  • Odd
  • Even
  • Review Days 1-8
Four days a week, I work with each of the three older children individually. I know a lot of families do memory work together, but I find separate work is easier for us. I let the kids choose what they want to work on and this method gives us more flexibility for the individual students.

We read the page in the daily tab together or I let the child try to recite it. Then we do either the Odd tab or the Even tab, depending on whether the day of the month is odd or even. Then we do one of the review tabs. I just cycle through these. See the yellow post-in note in the picture? Each day, I just move it one tab back and that's the work we'll review the next day. Because we do memory work four days a week, each of the review tabs gets covered about once every two weeks.

Once First Daughter could read, I tried letting her and First Son do their memory work together. It was not clear they memorized quite as quickly as they could with me, but more importantly, they were a little mean to each other in the process. I decided it was worth my time to work with each of them myself. It takes about five minutes with Second Daughter (kindergarten, and first year doing memory work), maybe ten minutes with First Daughter (second grade), and fifteen or twenty minutes with First Son (fifth grade). He wanted a real challenge this year, so in December started memorizing Paul Revere's Ride by Longfellow.

This year, I started writing the date they've memorized something at the top right of the page. It's kind of fun to see it right there in the book and helps me remember what was learned most recently as I'm moving pages around in the binders.

When one of the children memorizes something and chooses a new poem, I put the new poem in the Daily tab. The just memorized poem goes behind Odd or Even and the one there (preferably the one they've been practicing longer) goes to one of the Review tabs. I cycle through them so I don't add another one to the first review tab until all the review tabs have four sheets of paper (for example; only First Son has memorized so much).
Here is our new Memory Binder Master. In this, I have sections for early elementary poems, late elementary poems, psalms and parables, prayers, and historical memory work (like the Preamble to the Constitution). I have copies of anything and everything I think the kids might like to memorize in here. (Kindergarten memory work includes items like our address, phone number, when and where the student was born, and important cell phone numbers. I mix these in with poems and prayers during the year but don't keep these in the master book.) When they successfully recite their current memory work, we pull this out and together select something new for them to work on. I don't take anything out of the master binder. I print a new copy of what they chose (everything is on my laptop; they're in different files, but I print the file name at the bottom of every page so it's easy to find). I pencil their name on the sheet in the master binder when they choose something. It's fun to flip through it and see which poems they all choose.

If you are wondering, the saint on the cover is Blessed John Dominic. I searched online for a patron saint of memorization. There isn't really a particular saint, though many are good choices. It is said he had a good memory, so I added him to our covers to make them a little more interesting.

Our memory verses are similar, but I find it's easier to have all the students in the same box. I have coded the index cards for the different children. First Daughter has smile stickers on her cards. Second Daughter, who just started this year, has yellow highlighting on the top. First Son just has a number at the top right.

I've added my own verses recently, which the children like. I let them take turns looking at my card and telling me when I've made a mistake. First Daughter particularly enjoys it.

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