Memory Work System

Memory System

Several months ago I was on the hunt for a system to use when it comes to memory work – we have spent the last year working on memorizing Bible verses, but never with a specific method. I read a couple of ideas I liked {no links to the original ideas – I never bookmarked them and now cannot find them!} and when I approached Paul with my ideas he had a couple ideas to add to it and so our own memorization system was created.

We are entering our third month of using this system and we all love it. It takes a little bit of effort on my part at the beginning of each month to set up and the hardest part is picking out what we will memorize. Currently we do 3 Bible verses a week, 1 verse of a hymn and either 1 verse from a poem or patriotic song.

We have been able to stay on top of this schedule easily, however I’d recommend being extremely realistic before setting up your own schedule. The boys and I are at home every day and we eat breakfast and lunch at the table together and Paul is home for every evening for supper. We do all our memory work and review at meal times and, since we eat all our meals at home, it is easy to stay on top of the schedule I have created for us.

Putting it Together

I started with a 4×6 photo album that I had.

Starting with the second page of the album I used a permanent marker to write numbers 1-31, one number per page for each day of the {longest} month. I wrote this right on the plastic protective sheet of the album.

Then I took a stack of 4×6 index cards that have Bible verses, a verse from a poem/patriotic song and a verse from a hymn written 1 per card and distribute the cards throughout the album as per our schedule, as described below, one card for each day of the current month {February, having only 28 days, would only be filled through the 28th.}

Each day we work on memorizing the current days memory work {ie: the 7th day of the month you turn to the number 7 in the album, etc.}, and on odd days we review all of the odd days work from the entire month and on even days we review all of the even days memory work from the entire month.

On Sundays and Wednesdays, the two days of the week where we do not do any new memory work, I review the pieces that I feel the boys are struggling with. When we worked on My Country Tis of Thee, broken up into four Thursdays, each Thursday I would be sure to include the previous verses for review to ensure that they understood the verses were all part of one song.

At the end of each month, if I feel they have mastered each piece, I move the memorized cards into a second, larger album {pictured above} where we are collecting all of their memorized pieces of work. If they are still struggling on some verses I keep them in the back of the album, on un-numbered pages, to use as review work at the beginning of the next month.

The larger album was originally just a large photo album, but when I stumbled upon the above album I decided that it would be perfect for leaving out on display around the house, and with the 5 separate albums contained within the one box I am able to organize the memorized index cards by Poetry, Hymn or Bible verse.

Every few months we will devote strictly to reviewing the pieces in this album.

Memory Schedule

I left the first page blank in the album so that I could keep our memory schedule, that I refer to at the beginning of each month, in an easy and obvious place.

Our schedule is as follows:

Sunday – no memory work
Monday – Bible verse
Tuesday -Bible verse
Wednesday – no memory work
Thursday – 1 verse of a Poem/patriotic song
Friday – Bible verse
Saturday –  1 verse of a hymn

I refer to this chart at the beginning of each month, alongside a calendar, as I sit and fill in the photo album pages with the appropriate index card, making sure to put the correct verse {hymn, Bible, poetry} in correspondence with the correct day of the week {Mon, Tues, etc.}

Choosing the Memory Work

I have found this system works well when I am on top of the selections I want us to memorize, rather then scrambling around last minute trying to put together 20+ pieces of memory work, so I keep a stack of index cards filled out with memory work that I choose from at the beginning of each month. I keep blank index cards throughout the house and in my purse in case I come across something for us to memorize – I write it down right away so I don’t forget it.

For the Bible verses I have been working through Judah’s Cubby book. They only require the children to learn a small portion of the verse each week, but since I know he is capable I have had him memorizing the verse in its entirety. We are a few verses away from memorizing all of the verses in his book and then I will have to decide which Bible verses we will work on memorizing next; perhaps ones pertaining to specific character traits.

For the Poetry work I started with My Country Tis of Thee as it seemed like a fun and yet meaningful one for them to learn, doing one verse per week. I then moved them onto simple, one verse poems and soon I will move them into longer poems again. I went through a couple of poetry books that we own, as well as doing a Google search to find pieces I thought they would enjoy.

In selecting the hymns for them to memorize I chose hymns that are typically sung at our church… wouldn’t ya know, none of the hymns they have memorized have been sung in meeting yet! I decided to just teach them the first verse of each hymn for the time being and eventually we will go back and learn more of the verses. When learning the hymn I tell them who the author of the hymn was as well as any interesting details I might happen to know about that person.

When We Miss Some Days

In February we missed about 10 days of memorization due to being sick – for the days we missed I slipped the cards out of the album and placed them in for the beginning of March. Rather then attempting a massive amount of catch up, which would most certainly result in frustration, discouragement and ultimately failure we will simply work on the missed work at a re designated time.


Motivating Them to Memorize

I struggled greatly with what we should do to motivate the boys to memorize – I want to recognize and celebrate their hard work and yet I want extensive memorization work to be a normal part of their life and not have them expecting, or asking, for something special each time they do memory work.

We played around with several different ideas and have finally settled on this one; memory work is just something our family does. Just like on Tuesdays and Fridays we watch a movie {the only TV time they get in a week} and just like we make our beds, eat meals together, do overnight date nights 2x a year, plan special surprises, etc. Working on memory work every day is just a part of what our family does. This means we aren’t rewarding them for each piece of memory work, and they aren’t expecting it. But it also leaves the freedom for us to take them out to celebrate their accomplishments and encourage them to continue on with their hard work when we notice they are in need of encouragement.

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Jessica Lynette

3 Comments

  1. I like your system and I am so encouraged to hear of other moms prioritizing memorization! I haven't been as on top of it as you, but I'm still amazed at what God has done! Memorization is a great example of how we expect to little of people – if we try our minds can do amazing things, even at (or especially at) very young ages. We are involved in Junior Bible Quiz with my oldest two (5 & 7). This program has scripted questions and answers similar to a catechism. The kids memorize the question and answer with us, and some good discussions about why we believe what we believe are usually brought up while we're learning. They each have to study about 100 min./week, in addition to a weekly club practice. Then once a month the kids compete in academic quizzing team style. It is so fun to hear all those little voices from across the state at the meet quoting deep spiritual truths! This "system" isn't as pure as straight memorization, but it's been a fun way to memorize very thoroughly and have a blast with friends.

  2. What a great post! I have wanted to start memorization work with my two oldest but really have had no idea of where to start. Your system is a great place for me to work from.

    Can I ask what Judah's 'cubby book' is? I am pretty sure that I have one of those little photo albums at home and I have some index cards somewhere too – I will hunt these up tonight. I just need to choose what they will memorize. I never did this type of work myself as a child and a bit intimidated when it comes to choosing what verses to start with.

    Thanks for inspiring me once again!

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