Recite, Recite, Recite: Help Your Kids Memorize Anything

This is the second post in the series: Help Your Kids Memorize Anything. You can see part one here.

No doubt, the heart of any memory method is recitation. By saying the words over and over again, the language patterns, information and the very essence of words become ingrained into our being.

Often when we read, especially as better readers, we skip over words or read by phrase instead of word for word. It is this reason that simply reading something to memorize it is not enough. The better way is to say it out loud — or recite it.

Yet nothing brings to mind drill and kill and boring drudgery more than recitation. Admit it, when I say recitation you are picturing a Little House-type setting with a chorus of voices repeating math facts after a teacher, aren’t you? That would work, of course, but it doesn’t have to be the only way we recite and learn new material.

Add a Little Spice

One of the things my kids love best is when we add a little spice to our recitation. This is easily done by asking the kids to recite their memory work in various ways. Here are a few to get your started:

  • Recite in a whisper.
  • Recite in a yell (if you can stand it).
  • Recite while marching.
  • Recite while standing on one foot.
  • Recite while patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. (Can you?)

Recite, Recite, Recite: Help Your Kids Memorize Anything

Need some more ideas? We use these phonics chant cards from I Love 2 Teach to give us tons of ideas. I printed the cards on cardstock and then cut and laminated them. The kids pull a card and then we have a blast with our memory work recitation. Trust me, I tire of it long before they do.

Write and Erase

Another fun technique we use that we learned in co-op last year is to write the memory work on a dry erase board. The kids read and recite the memory work and then I erase a few words. Another recitation and then a few more words come off the board. We keep going until usually only a few ifs, ands, and buts are left — or nothing at all. They often like to recite it over and over, trying to get the entire thing with no helps as quickly as possible.

Recite, Recite, Recite: Help Your Kids Memorize Anything

Make it a Game

Another recitation technique they absolutely love came from this fabulous list at Sola Gratia Mom. It’s called Hot and Cold. You send one kid (the finder) out of the room and hide a memory work flash card. When the finder comes back they start walking around the room looking for the card.

In the meantime, the helpers are reciting the memory work. If the finder gets closer to the card, the helpers get louder. If the finder moves away, they get softer. Meanwhile, they have said that piece of memory work at least a dozen times before it is all over, without minding one bit.

Use Recorded Audio

This is perfect for in the car or for mealtime. Use either pre-recorded audio or an app like iTalk to record your own. Your favorite audio Bible can aid in scripture memorization, and this set of poetry CDs from IEW also provides hours of great poems to memorize.

Once you have your sources for memory work audio, then you can create your own iTunes playlist of current memory work to stay organized. This simple tutorial will show you how. We play ours on our fun wireless speaker or by hooking up in the van with an auxiliary cable.

Keep It Simple

As fun as all of these things are, there are some days that I just want to say the memory work together and that is ok. There are many days that we do just that. On those days, it helps to have an easy system set up to facilitate reciting through the memory work. You can see my morning time binder here, which includes our memory work.

Mystie at Simply Convivial also makes memory work binders for all of her readers. That way if she has to get up and change a diaper or wipe a nose, the recitation can continue without her — genius.

As you recite you will quickly discover a few things about your kids. First, they will enjoy it more than you thought, and second, they will learn everything much faster than you will. But that’s OK, because that was the point all along.

What are your favorite ways to do recitation?

Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.