How to Use Memorization Binders for Kids {aka: Memory Work Made Easy}

by GfG on October 9, 2013 · 14 comments

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When we started homeschooling, we researched and decided upon a combination of Charlotte Mason (birth to age six-ish) and classical (after age six)  methods of education. We did well for a few years and then realized we hadn’t really stepped from Charlotte Mason to classical.  I switched curriculums and added some areas to our school to rectify that.  One of the areas I had dropped for lack of organization was memorization.

Don’t run!  Memory work is easier than it sounds and is so stinkin’ good for kiddos’ brains.  Seriously.

Don’t believe little ol’ me that memorization is great for the brain? Well, then read a few of these sources.

Why We Should Memorize,  Poetry Memorization, In Defense of Memorization,  Why Memorize Scripture

Today, I want to share a tool a friend (thanks, Linda!) shared with me and it changed my practice and encouraged perseverance.  Both important aspects in tackling memorization work for a mama and her minions.

I heard about memory cards and boxes years ago, but knew immediately that they wouldn’t work for us.  There was no way “in God’s little green earth” (hat tip to Mom) that we would be able to keep the index cards in the box (aka: we would spill them just about every day, I’m sure) much less keep them in order (hahahahaha!).

So… with no tool, memorization work was hit and miss.  I am notorious for forgetting to follow up on it, despite have a wonderful writing and grammar curriculum that provides poetry memorization (yea, First Language Lessons and Writing with Ease).  Factor in six children and it’s really laughable.

No more laughing now, though!  Ha! (ok that doesn’t count as a laugh because it’s a victorious one, totally different)

Instead of a little box with loose index cards, we use a binder with clear page protectors and tabs.  Easy to handle and use.

Memory Binder WEB

Each child has their lovely color coded binder (pretty much my favorite organization tool ever) containing the following:

  • Pages (we use clear page protectors) for 40+ slots
  • Tabs designating odd, even, each day of the week, and numbers 1-31
  • Print outs of memory work

Here is how to make and use the spectacular binders.

Buy or make pages with tabs for each category.  Amazon and office supply stores sell some that have the numbers in lovely colors all the way down the page, but those were out of budget for us (since we were making six).  I bought the blank tabs and adhered them to page protectors to make my own tabs.  I admit I like the pre-made ones better.  They are pretty.     😉

Remember, the tabs are the following: O (for odd), E (for even), M, T, W, Th, F (for days of the week), and then 1-31 (for days of the month).

Tabs WEB

Print out the memory work.  Since we had already been memorizing some items, I printed out work that the children were currently working on as well as some I knew they had memorized fully.

Place the current memory work at the front of the binder (aka: first pages).   Place the print outs in page protectors (you do not have to do this part, but they are more likely to last through lots of page flipping if they have the plastic protection) and put them in front of all the tabbed pages.

Current Work WEB

Place previously memorized work in blank spots.  Fill in the spots behind the tabs with work already completed.  Start with the odd and even, then move to days of the week, then to the numbers.  You may not have enough to fill in the numbers yet (we don’t), so just leave them empty.

Day of the Week WEB

As a child memorizes a piece, move it and bump another piece.

As a child finishes a current work (can say it to you several days in a row without looking or prompts), move it to the “even” spot.  Bump the “even” piece to the odd and bump the odd to an empty day of the week.

Once the days of the week are full, bump a day of the week to an empty number (which corresponds to a day of the month). 

Date WEB

Every day, set a time for memorization and the child moves through the “spots”.  The child first works on the “current” pieces.  I have them go through these three times each (verses, poem, catechism).  Next they figure out the date (which they usually have to actually seek out since they are oblivious to that information, unless their birthday is close) and do either the odd or even, then the day of the week, then the date number.  Again, each piece in each spot three times aloud.

{Edited to add:

So… here’s how today worked for Phoebe:  She recited aloud three times each her catechism list of questions (5 Qs per page) and the Scripture  (she needs a new poem, oops!) from the front of her binder (aka: current memorization work).  Then, she turned to the O for “odd” tab and recited aloud the paper there.  Next, she turned to the W for Wednesday and recited the paper there. Finally, she flipped to the 9 for October 9th tab and recited the work there.

She has almost memorized the Scripture she is working on and will place it behind the E for even tab when she does.  The paper at the E will get bumped to a weekday.  A weekday will get bumped to the next empty number.}

That’s it!

If this sounds confusing, I understand.  It all falls into piece once you have the tabs and papers in place.  The trick is remembering to bump the even and odd as well as the days of the week.  We aren’t completely efficient in bumping the days of the week (just being honest).  Every few weeks I remember to ask them if they are doing that.       😉

These work so well that I’m considering making one for myself.  I think this system could help  my 43 year old brain retain better.

I love that the kids will each have a binder to take with them when they leave home, full of all the wonderful pieces they have memorized.  Granted, HB’s may be less full since we just started this last April, but she will fill it.  I”m confident.

As far as choosing what to memorize, that’s up to you. We choose Scripture because it is so important for a Christian’s walk.  We choose catechism because we want to be sure they learn the essential doctrines of our faith.  We choose poetry because it encourages beautiful language.

I think any family could utilize this system and see real success at memorization.

How could this system work for you?


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle October 9, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I really like this! We do a scripture memory box (SCM) as a family. But I love this. I would be interested, if you ever have time, to know why you go classical after age 6. I like both approaches but have “sided” with CM. Oldest is only 6 so things could change over the years.


GfG October 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm

We go with classical after (approximately) age six because we want to start doing more memorization and more academics. CM doesn’t really hit academics until after age eight to ten.

We say age six, but that depends on the child. Our first born was begging to read at age 4. Same with second. That really messed with my mind. 😉

Our #4 needed until age 8 and that was super.

I should do a post on what subjects we think are appropriate and how we do them… basically until 3rd-ish grade it’s reading, spelling, math, and read aloud. Handwriting at 1st grade. Science if they want and are interested in what we are doing (which they always are). After that we add history, writing, grammar, geography, and vocabulary. 5th grade then start Latin fully.


Michelle October 9, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Thank you. I would be interested in your post. We simply do reading lessons, math, handwriting (alphabet), and read alouds (lit and history). We do nature, composer, artist study once a week when we can. With my oldest being 6, I live by the survival motto right now. 😉


Michelle October 9, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Would you say the biggest difference between CM and classical would be memorization of facts vs. narration?


GfG October 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Hmmm… well…
CM focuses a lot on nature study and no book work until age 8. I honestly don’t remember much more than narration, dictation, and quality books after that, so I’m not qualified to say. 🙂 I know we wanted memorization, root language, and rhetoric as a part of our homeschool.


Autumn Beck October 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Yes it does sound very confusing but I’m intrigued. I am so guilty of dropping the ball with memorization. Makes me sad and mad. At this moment I am sitting here looking at the catechism questions Michael wrote for the week and I’m not feeling motivated to go over it with them. Can you come see me and help me make binders?


GfG October 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I added a bit to see if that helps, friend.

I’m loading up the kiddos now… get your binders ready!


A Mama's Story October 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Hey, Mindy!!! I just wanted to let you know that your post is among the featured this week so will be pinned on pinterest, shared on FB and Twitter, and of course mentioned on tomorrow’s link-up. Please visit again and help yourself to a featured button. 🙂 Thanks again for linking up at A Mama’s Story’s Mama Moment Mondays. 🙂


GfG October 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Oh, fun! Thank you, SE!


Melissa Matthews October 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I am very interested in making an exact replica of your scripture binder for myself and my youngest son. Would you mind sending a link or the documents to my email and maybe even make them available on your blog for others who may be interested? Thanks! – Melissa


GfG October 17, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Melissa- great idea! I will do that next week!


Maria Blough January 20, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Someone needs to incorporate this into an app (:


Tammy February 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I am going to implement this for my five children. I love it! I tried the index system and had similar issues to yours. Question for you: How do you keep track of which memory items you have placed in each child’s binder?

Some of my children will get the same verses or poems at later dates and I can totally see myself getting confused as to who has already memorized what as the binders fill up.

I was thinking of maybe having a file folder in my computer documents for each child with each document that I have printed for that child’s binder. OR I could just have one document and on page 2 of the document I could list each child that it has been printed off for.

I would love your thoughts on this.


GfG February 4, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Tammy! I love your file idea. I would help me plan and make sure I hit the Scriptures I want with each kiddo. Super! Thank you for chiming in here.


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