Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How Do You Do Memory Work?

We are five weeks in CCE (Catholic Classical Enrichment), so I feel I am starting to 'get my sea legs.' I have experimented with how to incorporate our learning of the Memory Work into our regular schoolwork and would love to hear how other parents in similar programs accomplish this. Other families have such great ideas to offer!


I have learned that we need to do our Memory Work at least on all our regular school days (Monday through Thursday), and our school director actually suggested we go over it with the kids on Fridays when we first get home from CCE (although I don't). Regularity seems to help a lot, and I've lately begun our days with CCE Memory Work while we're all still together and no kids have wandered off to do anything else. Doing Memory Work daily and first thing seems to have been the most important thing.

Classroom Games

I hear from my children that their teachers play fabulously creative games with them during class when reviewing or introducing Memory Work. However, I quickly discovered that the games were not so easily adaptable at home because here I am teaching a wide range of ages (4, 6, 8), while the ages are more homogeneous in the CCE classrooms. When I introduced a competitive game at home, the four-year-old was quickly weeping because she couldn't keep up.

Are there any games that work with a wide range of age abilities?


I have fond memories of a particular high-school chemistry teacher who would throw out chocolate candies to whoever answered questions correctly like identifying the periodic table of elements. Turns out, people of all ages like that!

So, about once per week, we do our memory work while earning candies.

Either we go through the list in order, or we shake things up a bit, but, either way, all the kids recite after me and earn a candy each for doing. Meanwhile, I bribe the toddler with a piece of candy to go away. "Okay, here is your candy for playing in the other room! Good job! Go back to the den now."

The kids still like a game element, so we might roll a die or pick a numbered paper to decide in which order we're going to recite.

Using the CD or Not

Sometimes I have us follow along with the CD, mainly for help getting the memorization tunes right or with the pronunciation of the Latin, but mostly I don't.

Memorizing on the Go

Sometimes we do our Memory Work in the car (by CD) or I'll grab the booklet and take it with us, such as on a walk.

Fill in the Blank

In the beginning of the week, I recite the whole statement and the children repeat. The next day, I start leaving blanks for them to fill in (which I think is called French-style dictation). The subsequent days, I will try to leave more blanks.

For example,

1. "A declarative sentence makes a statement and ends with a period."

2. A declarative sentence makes a statement and ends with a . . . ?"

3. A declarative sentence makes a statement and . . . ?

4. A declarative sentence . . . ?"

Similarly, with the geography locations, we memorize them by city and state, then I'll ask, "Berlin is the capitol of what?" and "What is the capitol of Germany?" (We also find the locations on the map.)

Mama is Short on Time

Sometimes if I'm really too short on time, I hand the booklet to my children and tell them simply to quiz each other.

What Are Your Techniques?

I would love for my readers to leave comments about how you help your kids learn Memory Work!


  1. As I told you, I rely heavily on the CD. But, I find I'm only going over it on school days when we should probably be doing it over the weekend as well.

  2. From a friend of mine via email:

    I just read your blog post on memory work. I, myself, am still trying to get a feel for this, and many times, the memory work goes by the wayside because I’m more focused on the other pieces of curricula that we work with.

    However, I’m not sure if this is the case with CCE, but with CC we use A LOT of hand motions (many of them are tied to ASL), which helps incredibly. And many of the review games we do entail movement (i.e. “tell me the 2nd Declension Noun endings while galloping like a pony”). Hot potato is another fun one (and one that could involve all ages). Of course, this can often creative extremely boisterous children, so if you prefer calm review, these aren’t good ideas. Another mom in our group uses a CandyLand board for review that seems to be a favorite among the kids, and [our 5-year-old] adores this.

    And of course, just listening to the songs and keeping it going throughout the day helps too. Even when we aren’t “formally” sitting down to review, we’re talking about it during the day, even in small snippets. They don’t even know they’re reviewing.

    For geography, we have laminated maps that I let them draw on with dry erase. [Our 9-year-old] is really good at this, as I’ll ask her to trace the whatever-Empire we’re covering on any give week. [Our 5-year-old] will just trace the continents, which I feel is adequate given his age and maturity.

    That’s about all for now…as, again, I’m still just getting it.

  3. We primarily listen to the CDs in the car. My kids love listening to them and request them (even now when we are not doing CSH.) That is the most manageable for me!