Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Memorization Box

Recently, we joined a semi-local poetry club whose professed aim is to "rekindle the lost art of recitation." Families are encouraged to memorize poetry and scripture and then given a monthly venue for reciting the pieces they have memorized in the form of a friendly competition or "bee". If you are wondering why in the world anyone would want to do such a thing, Emma, the founder of the group, has recently published an e-book on the philosophy and motivations behind poetry memorization and recitation.

This has been a fabulous opportunity for us! Over the past several years, memorization of poems, songs, scripture verses, and other important words has become an integral part of our family culture. Now that we are attending the monthly poetry bees, however, we have an immediate reason to keep all of our memorized pieces sharp. All three of my older children are excelling in their capacity to memorize and recite, though we are still working on harnessing nervous energy while waiting for your turn!

A couple of years ago, someone on one of my e-mail lists recommended a memorization system that has revolutionized our recitation efforts. It involves a file card box and dividers that are labeled "Daily", "Odd", "Even", with the days of the week, and with the numbers 1-31 (for each day of the month). The basic idea is to work on a new piece daily until it is well-known, then gradually move it to less- and less-frequent practice sessions as you continue to introduce new pieces. (See the above link for further details.)

Previously, when we were each working on different poems of our choice, I used different colors of file cards for each person. Now that we are focusing on the same poems for the poetry club, I just write initials on each card to remember who is working on what.

I love how compact and portable the system is, which means that we are more likely to use it regularly. It has been a perfect addition to our family memorization efforts, and has been enhanced by our participation in the poetry club. I highly recommend both!