Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Practicing Memory Work

Our family simplifies our memory work practice because we like to do things like... survive Essentials writing assignments.  We also like to complete projects and play games as a family.  If you look at the way our day is set up, if we spent two hours per day on memory work practice, we would not be able to do all the other things we like and need to do.

So... we usually keep our memory work practice to less than 30 minutes.  I simply bank on the fact that the tutor can review 7 subjects 7 times in a 30-minute period; I should be able to do the same. After all, the tutors are tutors for the parents. (They are modeling for us what to do for the coming week.) And... if I stretched out our memory work any longer, I'm not sure my children would like it as much.

So.. our family has a really easy, UNcreative way that we practice our memory work.  We listen to songs and use hand motions (or practice our best Kung Fu moves) while singing.  We listen to our songs over and over and over again - in the car and in the house.  I quiz them randomly out loud.  We are mainly auditory learners, so that works well for us!

The tutor provides a model of practicing memory work using a whiteboard.  This is the "stick in the sand" approach that Leigh Bortins constantly reminds and encourages us to use.  The idea is:  If we were marooned on an island without our color printers, laminators, TRI-FOLD BOARDS, or MP3 PLAYERS, we could still find a stick and teach our children by writing in the sand.  So memory work practice is not SUPPOSED to be any more complicated than that. (The photo below has been purposely smudged to honor copyright.)

But what about children who do not know how to read and write?  We (and they) can draw pictures.  Most recognize their letters.  They enjoy jumping around and chanting.  And so... we still can use a stick in the sand.

But for those who would like ideas beyond the stick in the sand, here is a list of various ways to practice memory work.

Memory Work Practice Methods:
Dry Erase - erase a word or two each time you repeat the sentence/fact:  This works for ALL subjects!
Props/Object Lessons
Drill Sheets
Use rhythm - clapping, stomping
Activities - throw ball to each other while reciting, skip, hop, etc.
Printed Visuals
Hand motions
Follow the leader and repeat after me (student led or parent led).
Act out or use puppets
Games - Until I can post a new version of this,you can visit last year's Review Games post for ideas.
Use different voices (say it in a "mouse" voice or a "cowboy" voice)  Download review game dice here, which has voice play and action ideas to use during recitations.  (Just ignore the "current week" dice.  That was something we used personally at one time to ensure we were reviewing the prior six week's material.)

Our Review Game Dice.
Skip Counting Charts (circle the numbers)
On CC Connected, use Skip Counting ALL.pdf by user NoGreaterJoy5 (in page protector or laminate)
Write out skip counting numbers on construction paper and have students hop to the correct number in the correct order.
Lay out the construction number sheets and give them a flyswatter to swat them in the correct order.
Multiplication Drills and Multiplication Wheels
CC's Tables, Squares and Cubes
Multiplication Tables (like this one for 9s)
Copywork - on a blank sheet of paper or whiteboard
File Folder Games
Flashcards or Skip Counters
Dice Games (roll two dice and multiply the numbers)
Card Games (flip two cards and multiply)
Multiplication Bingo
I Have... Who Has Multiplication
Sing song while doing "aerobics" - jumping, skipping, jumping jacks
Use puppets to chant the multiplication facts

Sing song while using flipcards.
Sing song and do timeline motions.  (CC Connected: CC History Timeline Signs and Motions.pdf by user foundations.)
Hide timeline cards in a room.  Students find them and place in order.
Mix up the timeline cards and have students place in order.
For young children, lay out timeline cards on the floor and let them swat them with a flyswatter in the correct order.

Sing songs and use hand motions. (CC Connected: AJT Cy1 World History History Sentence Hand Motions 2012.pdf by user NoGreaterJoy5)  
Use printed visuals (See Tri-Fold Board post):  Cut up pictures or sentences to put in order.
Act out the history sentence.
Copywork and/or Illustration.  (CC Connected:  C1 History Sentences to Illustrate copy.pdf by Loriberlie)

Charts (CC Connected:  C1 Latin Noun Declension Practice Page and Key.doc, and AJT Latin Noun Declension Mix and Match Activity.pdf by NoGreaterJoy5)
Dry erase Board
Songs and movements
Write declensions using strings of play-doh, or raisins on peanut-buttered bread, or icing on cookies...

English Grammar
Copywork (Search copywork on CC Connected.  User NoGreaterJoy5 has several sheets available for new grammar.)
Prepositions Video with Motions (For a written list of motions on CC Connected: Preposition Choreography by LoriBerlie
Worksheets and activities listed on English Grammar Post.

Trace and Draw using Geography Trivium Tables or Geography Notebook (CC Connected:  Cycle 1 GeoNotebook by CC.pdf by foundations)
Show me:  "Show me where ____ is on the map."
Tell me:  "Tell me what this is." [Parent points to a location on the map.]
Use continental blobs to practice drawing continents using a blank sheet of paper.  (Example is on our Geodrawing Camp post.)
Make a felt board map for continent (or country!) practice.
Print out huge MegaMaps from National Geographic to post on a wall and color in as you study each country.
Print two Geography MegaMaps from YourChildLearns.  Laminate or use Contact paper and use them to match up countries to continent.

This was a big hit at GeoDrawing Camp.  We even used it
in our performance.  What's more, our oldest now knows not
only the country locations but can recognize the shape
of the country when it's off by itself.  It was worth the
time I spent putting it together! This one was printed 3x3.
Sing, hand motions, or props (CC Connected: C1_sci4th_wk01-2_HandMotions.pdf by KnoxFamily)
Dry erase - erase a word each time after reciting.
Copywork and illustration
Printed visuals or props
Make playdoh, clay, or food models
An example of using charts and mnemonics for Classification
Check list of links for related activities

Memorize the Ten Commandments in pictures.  (Click here for a pdf).
Singing (Megaverses has an Exodus 20:1-17 song.)
File Folder Games

Fine Arts
5 Elements of Shape Practice
Mirror Image Practice
Visit Drawing Post for Fine Arts lesson plans.
Visit Tin Whistle Post for lesson ideas

Science Projects
Review Scientific Method & experiment or project conducted in CC class
Song on CC Connected:  scientificmethod.mp3 by stealthmama
Select "Science Projects" from drop-down menu on CC Connected for ideas, or go to our Science List of Links.

CC Connected: AJT 2012 Foundations Presentations Recommendations.pdf by NoGreaterJoy5, Presentation Skills Visual.pdf by jobarkocy, and Class Presentations PDF.pdf by loriberlie
Some skills to practice (an focus on one each week):  eye contact, project voice, enunciate clearly, use inflection and expression, standing still, using visuals appropriately,  involving the audience, good posture, time management, pace, interesting content, watch filler words (like "umm...." and "and"), attention grabber, final clincher

Children who are unable to read and write can still make notecards by drawing pictures to remind them of their main points.  This worked very well for my kindergartner last year!

There you have it:  lots of ideas to mix it up and make it fun.  For us, singing our songs, using our tri-fold board, and being silly just comes naturally.  We throw in some extra drills - especially for math and Latin - but memory work practice is so simple for us as it stands now that I would never want to make it stressful by over-complicating it.  If you're still not sure how to handle memory work, fear not!  Your tutor will provide you with great ideas and a simple plan every single week!  :)


  1. THANK YOU, THANK YOU ,THANK YOU! You are the bomb! Thanks for sharing your amazing abilities and gifts with your fellow ccer's. Love you, Brandy my sister!

  2. Awesome post Brandy! I can't wait to implement some of this at home! Blessings my dear sister!

  3. Hi Brandy,

    I ran into your website yesterday and I'm so blessed by all your work. My son is just starting CC K4 this fall.

    I was wondering if I should purchase the Memory Work Resource CD and Audio CD from CC. Or should I pay monthly subscription to CC Connected for all the resources?

    Thanks you so much!!!!!


  4. I highly recommend the CC Connected subscription over the MWRCD and Audio CD because most of those resources are posted on CC Connected by foundations (Classical Conversations Moderator), AND you can take advantage of all the great files other tutors and parents have created. There are literally thousands of resources on CC Connected's file sharing, plus the private forum, plus the great tutorials. If you know how to download and use MP3s (on a player or how to make a CD on your computer), CC Connected is the best way to go for audio, too! To see what CC Connected looks like, go to

  5. Thank you for your input. I just bought the Foundation Guide, tin whistle, and Memory Flashcards. I'm debating if I should get the timeline cards since my son is only four. What do you think?

    Do you know if all the songs files are uploaded before the program starts? Or do I need to download the songs weekly?

    I'm having trouble registering onto CC Connected. Are you able to log on? I'm hoping this will be taken care of soon, so I can get all the files ready.

  6. From the CC Forum: "We have been recently told by our system operators that CC Connected is temporarily unavailable for new and renewing subscriptions due to an upcoming change in our current operating systems. You will receive notification via email in early August regarding the status of this update with directions on subscribing to CC Connected at that time. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and look forward to offering you CC Connected services in August." I will try to keep an eye on this and send you another message as soon as they let us it is available.

    All audio is uploaded to CC Connected already by user "foundations." For the subjects that CC does not offer songs, user "nogreaterjoy5" has uploaded songs she has created. Other users may upload songs throughout the year, but these are already available.

    You can wait for the Timeline cards if you are on a budget crunch. But we love having the visual for each timeline event, and we can play games with those cards to practice the memory work, which works well with the youngest children. (As in, you can mix them up and have the child put them in order, or you can hide them around the room and let the child find them and put them in order...) If you have the timeline cards, it also makes it easier for you if the child has questions about it, since it is a reference tool in itself. Still, with a four year old, it would be fine if you waited to get them until next year. :)

  7. Brandy,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. I was praying to God the week before I found your blog. I cried to Him that I can't homeschool the kids on my home. I need support from other moms. He answered my prayers by sending me to your blog and CC.

    I'm sure your blog will bless many other people.



  8. Welcome to CC Paulina! I just wanted to chime in and say that I really "need" my Audio CD. I find it overwhelming to download every song and subject from CC Connected. I have friends who do and it does save them $30...but, for me, the $30 is worth is because I can take the CD in the car with me and not have to worry about missing a subject. Just another CC mom's two cents ;)

    Have a great year! (and don't try to do everything, especially with a four year'll repeat this cycle again in 3 years....lay the foundation for that;) Have fun!

  9. What a fantastic list of ideas you put together! I downloaded the Skip Counting charts you linked to. Thanks for sharing this with us last week at Trivium Tuesdays! I hope you are able to link up again tomorrow!

  10. Nice information share here.Great work!!!!!!

    Router Machine

  11. Thank you Brandy for all you have done here. This is my first year with CC and this has been an excellent resource and guide!