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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ideas for memory work

Several of my kind blog readers have asked me to share how we review our memory work for Classical Conversations. Obviously, many of these ideas can be used for other types of memory work and not only for CC!

You'll notice I have a common theme based on a simple penny game. I keep a stock of coins in my school supplies. I give out pennies for right answers and then the kids can trade the pennies in for larger coins. They LOVE this!

Timeline cards
This is one of our favorites! We use the Veritas Press history cards. Each week CC works on about 8 cards. We memorize them a few different ways. First, we go through the stack to be memorized and talk about each card (background info and such). Then, we go through them and say the main fact ("The Flood", "Tower of Babel", for ex.). Next, we lay them all out in a row and pick out clues from the images on the front (ex 1st week: God, garden, brothers, ark, tower, shield, big pyramid, small pyramid). Now the fun begins! The kids hide their eyes and I mix up all the cards. They begin trying to get them back in the right order (usually I let the oldest child go first - this allows the younger ones more time to memorize the order). Once the first child lays them out in the order he thinks is correct I place pennies on the ones that are correct. Then he keeps reorganizing until he's gotten them all in the correct order and collects his pennies! We follow up by chanting all the cards quickly in order ("Creation, Fall in the Garden, Cain and Abel, The Flood, etc). Then the next child gets her chance to try.

We don't always do all this on one day. Sometimes we just get up to the image part and then start the penny game the next day. On subsequent days we do the penny game only and do the chant - reviewing the image clues, if needed.

History Sentence
I find the CC powerpoints helpful as they have good visual cues, and of course the CC songs are always good! I usually print out the powerpoint slides and keep them in a binder. We flip to the the current week's and play the music while looking at the slide. I often find that hand motions of some sort are very helpful, too, especially with non-readers! I don't review these every day, but about twice a week and then play the audio CD in the car here and there.

This consists of simple skip counting set to music (CC provided, but if you don't use CC, you could find skip counting songs elsewhere, I'm sure). We print out the powerpoints (kept in the same binder), but could just as easily create our own charts. We look at the powerpoints and listen to the songs, singing along. Another time (or the same day, if we wish) we write the skip counting on a white board and one by one erase the numbers having the kids say the skip counting and filling in the missing numbers from memory until all the numbers are erased and they are doing it entirely from memory. I give pennies everytime they get the whole skip counting series correct.

Here the powerpoints (binder again) are quite helpful and we also use hand motions of some sort. We have done this in the past and will again, but this year I'd like to also incorporate something hands-on for the science memory work. My plan is to use some of Dinah Zike's ideas for "books". I'll share my ideas for those as I get them figured out, but if you don't know about Dinah Zike's "Big Book of Books", check it out! For example, using a Venn Diagram to display the facts about the differences between animal cells and plant cells (weeks 3 and 4).

This is pretty simple: get a map, call out the places to be located, pennies given round for correct answers! I usually start by going clockwise around the map, or in some other expected pattern, and then start switching it up a bit. Another good idea, if your kids are able, is to let them trace a blackline map and color in the locations on their tracing. If that is a breeze for them, they can try drawing them free-hand.

We use hand motions, rebus charts (using images for keywords in the verse), and pure repitition. Of course, pennies for good work!

We try to quickly run through the timeline, math, geography, and Bible on each of our four non-CC school days, and alternate between science and history, spending two days a week on each. My goal is to get through the memory work in about 30 minutes, but sometimes it takes much more or much less time. While I highly value the memory work, my higher goals are the basics (math and languages), the beautiful (literature and arts), and the fascinating (science and history) and I will sacrifice memory work time for these other goals.

I'd love to hear YOUR ideas for memory work and other readers will benefit, so please leave a comment!

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Leslie said...

Thank you so much for sharing all these ideas. I stalk your CC posts looking for information since I am about to begin my first year. Thanks!

Kerry said...

Oh, Leslie! I'm thrilled you are finding my posts helpful. You are the kind of "stalker" I like!

Leslie said...

LOL - Thanks. Once the CC year starts, I might be asking you more questions. For now, I am just soaking it all in!

Kerry said...

You know, my hubbie says, "Even a blind squirrel can find nuts now and again." I'm just like the blind squirrel who's willing to share the stash of nuts I've stumbled into. :)

Ask away - comments or email!

Leslie said...


Jen said...

Thank you SO much for this! We are starting our first year of CC and I'm concerned as to how we will get everything done. I think my boys will LOVE the penny idea! :-)

dashfox said...

Thanks so much Kerry! I love your ideas and will share them with everyone in my group. I guess I can't say I'm a "rookie" anymore. Maybe soon I can start sharing ideas!!!! You amaze me! :) Thanks again!


Rana said...

Stopping by from the Carnival. These are great ideas. I'm interested in the math especially. Thanks again!

Ruby in Montreal said...

Just popping in from the Carnival!


Hen Jen said...

okay, I'm now reading all your cc posts! I love how you laid this all out for us to "see" how you go over all the material. give pennies, and the kids can trade up for larger coins, I'm thinking you follow a normal coin accounting?...10 pennies for a dime? Do you then have a "store" they can buy things from, or do they just keep the money to use later ?

Kerry said...

Hen Jen - Great questions!

Yes, we use normal monetary amounts. A by product is they've quickly learned about change equivalencies!

I have thought about doing a "store" of some sort, but I haven't been organized enough to put it together. It is a great idea, thank you for reminding me.

Right now, they just save up the coins (they each have a little money jar I keep with their school stuff) and then trade them in for dollars eventually. It rarely amounts to too much, maybe a dollar every other week or so.

Oh, and I should clarify - this is only for my younger (Grammar) students. Although, if you have a reluctant older student, you could use the idea just to help set good habits. I'd be hesitant, though, as a child in Dialectic stage should be more self-motivated.

Hen Jen said...

thank you for such a quick answer! I really like the penny idea, and I'm sure my 3 young students would love it.