Friday, April 12, 2013

Memory Work is WORK!

Memory work is useful, yes, but easy it is absolutely NOT! As I've added more memory work to our weekly schedule, I've found that it's really necessary to keep finding different ways to review the same material every day. Too many flashcards, and too much straight copywork, and the kiddos' brains just tune out. They'll be able to quickly give the correct response in that same format, but ask them the same question in a different way, and they suddenly can't remember a single Latin word that they've been reviewing daily for a month, sigh.

Therefore, mostly for my own reference, but for yours, too, if you care about such things, I've compiled below my list of all the varied ways that I can think of to review memory work, everything from spelling words to math facts, timeline dates to state capitals, poetry to sight words, vocabulary to Latin get the idea:

Copy in alphabetical order. This works for spelling/vocabulary words and the kids' Latin words--it's regular old copywork, but you have to use your brain a bit more, and it makes sure that you're not studying the words in the same order every time.

Write it on the window with dry erase markers or the sidewalk with chalk. The kiddos ALWAYS like to do this, but it does take a ton of time, since if you've given them dry erase markers or chalk and fun things to draw on, you've obviously got to let them draw:

Speed race! This would give Sydney a heart attack, but it's been working really well with Willow and multiplication. Simply memorizing her multiplication table is a fail, because she can calculate so quickly that she can work any fact out in her head in a few seconds, and then you're left wondering, "Is she trying to remember, or counting by eights in her head?". I've been using these multiplication matching puzzles, however, timing Willow as she races to complete them, and encouraging her to beat the previous day's time. If it looks like she's starting to memorize the positions of the answers as well as the answers, I skip to different tables for a few days, and then go back to the earlier ones for a fresh look and a review.

Songs. Will is our star at memorizing facts through song (her recitation of all the countries of Africa still gives me pridey feelings inside), but Syd is quickly catching her up, with her love of the Song School Latin CD. It takes a lot of curating, though, because many educational songs are crap. I use my free Spotify app to search for and then stream songs for just about every subject--they're not all for memorizing, of course (the girls always want to listen to the state song of whatever state they're studying, for instance), but you'd be surprised how happily you can bop along to the multiplication table when it's sung by a good voice to a catchy tune. Our favorite, by FAR, is Victor Johnson's Multiplication and Skip Counting Songs, although there's also a super annoying song ("The Pi Song," by Bryant Oden) that I'm using to memorize pi:

"They said 'Would you like some pi?' I said, 'Yes, I would!' I forgot they majored in math. I would undo it if I could! They said, '3.1415926535897932384626433.'" Yep, that's from memory! Don't all congratulate me at once.

DIY Dry Erase. The girls actually DON'T like this too much, because it takes a lot more elbow grease to erase than a conventional dry erase board, but for things like parts labeling or their spelling words, I like to laminate the document to use as a dry erase:

I've also heard that page protectors and CD cases work well as dry erase boards, but I haven't tried them yet. One more thing for my to-do list!

Tape yourself. The girls love doing this for poetry and spelling words. Not only does the taping require a lot of thoughtful interaction with their memory work, but it also really encourages repetition--I think they just like to listen to themselves! I let them record these on my ipod, which they're allowed to use, too--
--but if a certain little someone receives an ipod touch for her birthday (assuming that Craigslist/local pawn shops cooperate), then they can start recording on that, instead. 

DIY flash cards. They like their flash cards better if they help me make them. This works especially well for Latin, since we use these coloring pages that correspond to all the vocabulary in Song School Latin. I print them four to a page, the girls color them, then (sloppily) cut them out and (even more sloppily) laminate them, all by themselves. Big fun, and impossible for them to say that they hate later on.

So that's what I've got so far. I need WAY more ideas, though! I'd like to have twenty or so possibilities, to support a full month of memory work without repetition. But I also need ideas that don't require a ton of prep work--I do NOT want to be creating a Montessori-style three-part card for every subject every week, for instance--or use a ton of expensive or disposable materials. 


1 comment:

Tina said...

These are some pretty great ideas for memory work. We don't do much of that, and I have no idea if Emma would enjoy it. More to think about for when we get home.

Sorry I don't have any suggestions!