What Memory Work Looks like in Our Homeschool

I mentioned previously some memory work we do for geography. I’ve also blogged about the scripture/poem/quote memory box we use every morning at breakfast.

In total, we spend ~15 minutes on the memory box each school day and ~30 minutes on our “Memory Work” that spans many different subjects. In addition to mapping, which we do one day a week, we memorize grammar, science (biology this year), history (ancient, this year) and math.

As I mentioned in the geography post, we pulled a lot of our memory work from the Foundations program for Classical Conversations. But I rearranged the order to match our studies for the year, and I wrote my own history sentences to highlight people and events we found most interesting.

After the initial effort of making all the cards, it took us a while to come up with a good system to track progress and make sure we were reviewing things regularly. I’m sharing here in case it helps someone else!

Here’s a look at one of our rings of cards:

I bought several packs of these pre-drilled colorful index cards, and mapped out all the memory work I wanted to do. I split it into 4 years (unlike the Classical Conversations timeline of 3 years) and assigned a color for each topic. Pink is grammar, yellow is math, blue is science, green is for maps.

For this year’s cards, I have a ring we’re actively memorizing, one for cards we’ve mastered, one for maps, and one for cards we haven’t started yet.

Using a sophisticated system that includes a post-it note and plenty of scotch tape, I put this up on our wall:

On Monday, I set a timer for 30 minutes (our upper limit in case we get sucked down the rabbit hole) and look at the charts on the wall. I ask Mackenzie to recite every item that has a pencil – mark next to it. If she has it mastered, I’ll change that mark to a +. We are generally working on a half dozen or so cards at a time.

When I’ve quizzed her on each one, she colors in the ones she mastered and we add new cards, moving them around to the appropriate rings. Then we get goofy playing memory games. I’ll often stop an explain context on the new cards as well. For example this week we pulled out an anatomy book so she could see the urinary tract and we talked about why the lungs and skin are part of the excretory system. She also took the time to compute all the cubes we were going to memorize herself using a whiteboard.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we do memory games (if we have time) to practice our current cards. The current cards all on one ring so we can do this outside, in the car, or wherever we like.

On Wednesdays, I’ll often have Mackenzie roll a dice and I’ll just flip through our ring of cards we’ve mastered, stopping on the number she rolls.

On Fridays, we get out our mapping binder and our ring of green cards as I wrote about in my geography post.

Disclaimer: Lest you think I am a superstar homeschooler who does this daily, rain or shine, our consistency on memory work this school year has probably hovered around 50%. That’s due in large part to being sick for several months with this pregnancy, but also just a reflection of my laid back style. 4 days out of 5 in an average week is fine by me! The progress has still been encouraging and it’s rewarding to see our knowledge base grow together. It’s proof that memory work done imperfectly still rocks. 🙂

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About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Curriculum, Homeschooling, Life as we know it. Bookmark the permalink.

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