Monday, November 15, 2010

Memory Work

This an update on the memory work that I am doing with Mei and Duncan.

I like Anki, but my little man likes to have index cards to hold in his hands. Honestly, this is nice, because he can do them in the car or take them anywhere we may be going. Although I like the organization of the Simply CM file box and Rose's Mnemosyne design, we are just not that strctured yet. When we were just starting, it seemed silly to have so many tabs with nothing behind them.

I own Living Memory and the CC Foundations book and I do pull some ideas from there, but mostly I just pull from what we are studying. While our memory work isn't as structured as some of the systems online, our weeks of history and science are. So, for those two subjects I typed in the memory work for the semester. For math, I underlined things I would like them to memorize on the content pages of their Saxon books. When we get to one, I type it in. Mei is using Winston Grammar fairly scheduled, so I went ahead and typed up her grammar/ LA memory work for the first semester. For the Duncan who is using MCT Island I am more free form. I pull things based on what he is studying, but I am deciding at the last minute.

I write the week and the subject in the upper right corner of the side with the question. For example, the memory work from this past week all says (subject)15 in the upper right corner.

M15 for week 15 of school and M for math.
HG15 for week 15 of school and HG for history/ geography.
LA15 for week 15 of school and LA for language arts.
S15 for week 15 of school and S for science.

Poem1, Poem2 for poetry.
Some weeks a topic will have more than 1 card and some weeks it won't have any. For example, we just began poetry in Nov and just added poem2 this past week.

We use the large size 4 x 6 index cards and keep them in a soft box. I can't find ours, but it is a 13 pocket and similar to this.

Here is ours.
All the cards the kids are currently memorizing are in the front. Once a card is memorized, we move it to the back pockets where the cards are organized by topic. Occasionally, we will review cards. This past Tuesday we reviewed all the LA cards and Thursday we reviewed all the science cards. If they lack immediacy on a card, it comes back to the front. When they have more cards, we will need to be a little more structured in when and what we review. Currently, they only have about 75 cards each, so we can be pretty laid back and I can spot check as we go. I don't think that we could be this relaxed with 250 cards.

Oh, I did mention that I typed these. I print them off and glue them to the index cards. (You could print them on card stock or printable cards, but that is a different story.) Anyway, I keep a typed file for a couple of reasons. If they lose a card, I know exactly what was lost and can print it out again. Also, I print the Mei's cards in a cursive font and the Duncan's in a bradley hand font (next year I plan to switch him to cursive), because I think it is important they can read cursive. I never write anything in cursive except my signature, so this was an easy way to meet that goal.
If you look very closely at the tabs, you can see where initially I thought we would try the Simply CM method.  

Memory work gives quite the bang for the buck. For very little time and effort it develops memory skills, installs pegs on which a child can hang additional information, incorporates independent learning, and so much more. Also, it is wonderful how all these things have built confidence in my students!


  1. OK, reading your post has inspired me to be much better about encouraging and organizing memory work. Last year I was a little more organized but this year, not at all! Thanks for your example and for writing it for our benefit!

  2. I'm inspired too! I started off the year with a memory binder but didn't keep it up. I own Living Memory and need to get it out!
    Thanks for the ideas & pictures (always helpful!).