How We Use Memory Work in Homeschooling

Memory Work Cards

I am going to share with you, over 3 posts, how we apply memory work in our homeschooling.

I will also share some great links for practicing and drilling in Part 2.

Then, in Part 3, I will share lots of games and activities we play to help the memory work stick!

We memorize a lot of facts! Our weekly memory work includes countries and capitals, timeline dates, math facts, a grammar definition, a science question, a history fact, Latin vocab, a bible verse, geography terms and a map……………… It may seem like a lot, but my boys actually enjoy this part of our school day. We spend 3o minutes each day reviewing our memory work through various activities, playing games, using flash cards, or just reciting aloud 3x each. Memory work is an important part of our schooling and I firmly believe in the benefits of drilling home facts through rote memorization!

Why do we memorize stuff anyway?

In the beginning of my homeschool journey, a friend suggested that I read “The Well-Trained Mind“. I devoured the entire book in a weekend! It explains how to homeschool using the Classical Method of teaching.  It’s organized and systematic, language-based and has 3 stages of learning called the Grammar, Logic (Dialectic) & Rhetoric stages. Information is taught based on the stage of a child’s maturing mind through written words, living books, primary sources and rote memorization of facts.

In the Grammar stage, a child’s mind is like a sponge. They can soak up information and then spout it back quicker than most adults. In the Logic stage they start to question the “why” of those facts. Then, at the last stage of Rhetoric, a student takes all of those memorized facts and the answers to all of those “why” questions and learns how express them to others, in written or spoken form. By this stage, they have acquired the tools needed to express themselves logically, fluently and persuasively. They can now apply this knowledge when writing papers or when arguing with others.

So, when I tell my son to write a 2 – 3 page essay  on” Life in Ancient Egypt”,  he won’t panic because  he will have already acquired a basic knowledge of this time period. He will know when the Ancient Egyptians lived, where they lived, what major geographical features surrounded them and  in his mind he will have tucked away a timeline that he can visualize with important dates of pharaohs and events surrounding this time period.  When he starts his research, it will be easy to piece it all together and write a spectacular paper! Ideally, he will feel comfortable with his knowledge and abilities and will be able to express himself confidently in written form.

What do we memorize?

So now that you know WHY we memorize, I will tell you WHAT we memorize. We have 8 items of memory work each week:

1) A Bible Verse – This comes from our bible study for the week.

2) Grammar definitions and usage – These are basic grammar definitions and some common usage rules.

3) Math Facts or Skip Counting (for younger ones) – These are math multiplication facts and some important equations.

4) Latin Roots or Words – These words come from our Latin’s Not So Tough book.

5) History Fact  – These are chosen from our topic of study.

6) Science Question – These are basic science facts and some important scientists.

7) Geographical Locations and maps – We memorize geography terms, countries & capitals, major physical features and maps, routes or empires specific to our History study.

8) Timeline (these timeline dates were created in Quizlet) below are the timeline cards I created (we use these) – Our timeline starts around 6000BC and goes forth.

I pick the information to memorize based on the topics we are covering that week. For example, this past year we studied Ancient History so our memory work was based on events or people during this time period. Our Geography included memorizing the countries and major geographical features of Africa, Asia and Europe. We also memorize maps of ancient civilizations, routes of wars, or the spread of conquests and empires.

I load all of our memory work in Quizlet then print, paste on index cards and laminate. We use these cards for games, flash cards or quick review. Quizlet is an awesome program that allows them to take a test and play games with the information I load.

science frontscience back

DSC02934grammar memory cards


DSC02924Geog card back



How I fit Memory Work into our homeschool schedule.

We spend 30 minutes a day reviewing our memory work. On Monday, I give them 8 Memory Cards for the week. We read each one aloud 3 times. We don’t discuss it, we just read and practice memorizing. The goal here is not to discuss and learn the information on the card, but to simply memorize it. We learn about it in our daily readings, discussions and assignments so we use this 30 minutes to apply it to memory.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we review for 30 minutes by doing copywork, math 100 count boards, games, jeopardy, etc. On Friday, I test them. I have a Memory Work Checklist that I use to record their progress each week. If they are having problems with something, I will continue to drill them until they can spout it out. Once they have mastered the memory work for the week, those cards gets filed by subject into their Review Cards box, which I will explain in another post!!!

Memory Work Cklist.xls

Visit my Pinterest Board to get more ideas for Memory Work.

In Part 2 of my Memory Work posts I will share links and  ideas on how to practice your memory work. Then in Part 3 I will share lots of great ideas and links for games to play!!

Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss the next 2 parts of Memory Work!!


I linked this post to Trivium Tuesday at Living and Learning at Home. Head on over there and check out the other bloggers that linked up their posts!




  1. […] Part 1, I shared about Classical Homeschooling and why we memorize important facts. In Part 2, I shared […]

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