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If you have your child memorize poetry, speeches, scripture, etc, what is the longest thing they have proudly and cheerfully memorized and how old were they? And when do you stop?

This isn't a competition.. I'm just curious. I know Winston Churchill memorized all 70 stanzas of Macaulay's Horatius and used to recite them for friends his whole life. And PG Wodehouse always jokes that every child can say "The Wreck of the Hesperus." That one seems unlikely at our house.

My fourth grade son liked "The Death of Sennacherib" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade." The longest ones my K and 1st grader did were "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost, and "How doth the little busy bee" by Isaac Watts.

I'm thinking I really want to continue as long as possible, perhaps focusing on Shakespeare and speeches, like the Gettysburg address and "I have a dream,"  in the later grades. Thoughts from others who memorize poetry?

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The longest one any of mine have memorized so far is The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service sometime around 9th grade.

They all memorize poetry and Shakespeare from K thru graduation. We read a poem from a book from the Poetry for Young People series every day and when we finish a book they each pick their favorite to memorize and perform. I usually give them a couple weeks to work on it, but in the meantime we move on to the next poet. We do this as part of our "morning meeting time".

They also memorize the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble, the Gettysburg Address, and part of I Have a Dream in middle school, but that's part of our history work.

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1 minute ago, Momto6inIN said:

The longest one any of mine have memorized so far is The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service sometime around 9th grade.

They all memorize poetry and Shakespeare from K thru graduation. We read a poem from a book from the Poetry for Young People series every day and when we finish a book they each pick their favorite to memorize and perform. I usually give them a couple weeks to work on it, but in the meantime we move on to the next poet. We do this as part of our "morning meeting time".

They also memorize the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble, the Gettysburg Address, and part of I Have a Dream in middle school, but that's part of our history work.


I LOVE Poetry For Young People! The books are so beautifully illustrated and the poems are selected to be understandable but still a little challenging. I'll be using Poe, Whitman, Dickinson, and Sandburg for my 8th grader next year.

Sadly, memorization dropped from the schedule when we finished First Language Lessons--I attempted to keep it going one more year, but they kept forgetting to practice and I kept forgetting to check whether they were practicing. I dreamed of having them memorize the Preamble, Lincoln's Second Inaugural, longer Shakespeare passages... just didn't happen for us. It's in my mental "if there are ever more kiddos" file cabinet 😄 

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We have a binder with tabs set up like the SCM scripture box. So one for the day, odd/even, mon.-fri., then one for each day of the month. 

During summer I pick the things we will work on. I have Living Memory that I pull from for our subject work, then I pick poems- long and short ones, Shakespeare, Psalms, Proverbs, scripture, and lots of poems and songs in ds' second language. 

This year I am adding in 3 parables to memorize. He is able to tell the story, but this year I want him to memorize some. 

Some of the Psalms can be very long! And take us a month. I try to memorize as well. Each year I try to increase the length just a bit. This gets done right after breakfast so it is a priority otherwise it is too easy for us to skip. 

Memoria Press has a Horatius program. Have you seen it? 

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15 hours ago, Emily ZL said:

If you have your child memorize poetry, speeches, scripture, etc, what is the longest thing they have proudly and cheerfully memorized and how old were they? And when do you stop?

I require that they memorize quotes, speeches, excerpts from certain documents and basic facts.

We did a couple of years of group memory work where we learned various memorization techniques and found the ones that we liked best individually. Since 5th grade, they have to have a memorization project going and I don't plan to stop memorization. I think it's a valuable skill to have and that valuing knowing things for yourself is a good precedent to set.
My younger son memorized an essay that was about 10 pages long because he found it inspiring and hopes it will be relevant to his future.

Edited by Gil2.0
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16 hours ago, Momto6inIN said:

They also memorize the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble, the Gettysburg Address, and part of I Have a Dream in middle school, but that's part of our history work.

The whole declaration? There's a lot of grievances against the King in there!

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8 hours ago, lulalu said:

We have a binder with tabs set up like the SCM scripture box. So one for the day, odd/even, mon.-fri., then one for each day of the month. 

During summer I pick the things we will work on. I have Living Memory that I pull from for our subject work, then I pick poems- long and short ones, Shakespeare, Psalms, Proverbs, scripture, and lots of poems and songs in ds' second language. 

This year I am adding in 3 parables to memorize. He is able to tell the story, but this year I want him to memorize some. 

Some of the Psalms can be very long! And take us a month. I try to memorize as well. Each year I try to increase the length just a bit. This gets done right after breakfast so it is a priority otherwise it is too easy for us to skip. 

Memoria Press has a Horatius program. Have you seen it? 

This is a good idea! I'm just now setting up my SCM-style box for scripture this year. I should add poems or stanzas maybe.

I just checked out the Horatius set. It looks very cool! I think we usually don't add workbooks if we don't have to. But I do like the idea of tackling it in 6th grade in a systematic fashion over a period of time. We usually just spend 5 minutes first thing and move on.

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4 minutes ago, Emily ZL said:

The whole declaration? There's a lot of grievances against the King in there!

No, not the whole thing LOL

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I dont ask my kids to, but some do anyway. My 10 yr dd loves memorizing poems for fun. My college age dd was inspired in 7th grade by our Anne of Green Gables study to memorize Edinburgh After Flodden.  From my perspective that is one long poem!

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We spent some time memorizing poetry last year and I loved it. It is on my list of things to start up again. I think we got off track because I let the kids pick their poems and it all got bogged down in deep indecision.

I'm not especially interested in long poetry -- I just want them to store poetry in their heads. Where possible I also like to listen to poets reading their own work. We had fun listening to recordings of Robert Frost (such a strong New England accent!) and even Wallace Stevens. Or bits and pieces of Seamus Heaney reading Beowulf. 

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I did a lot of poem memorization in school, especially for drama class.  I can still remember a lot of the poems.  I also did scripture for Sunday school and VBS as a kid.

My kids have done some over the years, but not near as much as I would have liked.  However, one big accomplishment was memorizing almost the whole book of James when they were in elementary.  It was part of the MFW cycle.  My youngest went through it twice and has most of it still committed to memory, the older two still have some but not near as much.

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I have one who is great at memorization, it comes relatively easily and she remembers it forever (which is just 8 years and counting at this point). My other two will do it if I ask, but they aren't too bothered about getting it just right (c'mon guys, this one at least has to still rhyme!) and they start to forget it as soon as we move to the next thing. I told them it was important to have at least one good poem they could recite for ever, but then I let it go and move on to the next hill.

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Yes, we do memorize scripture and poetry. We loved “The Destruction of Sennacherib “ by Lord Byron. We generally memorize a poem a month. Some are seasonal ..”A Visit from St. Nicholas” in December.  Some we just like. One of our favorites is “Five Eyes” by Walter de la Mare.

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20 minutes ago, KrissiK said:

Yes, we do memorize scripture and poetry. We loved “The Destruction of Sennacherib “ by Lord Byron. We generally memorize a poem a month. Some are seasonal ..”A Visit from St. Nicholas” in December.  Some we just like. One of our favorites is “Five Eyes” by Walter de la Mare.

Five eyes is going on the list 👍

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We will never stop - because I myself still memorize poetry!

My eleven-year-old daughter's current favorite is "If" by Rudyard Kipling.  

We also use the SCM memory box system for poetry - and for everything else!  Grammar definitions, science facts, historical points - if it's worth remembering, it goes in the box.  The memory box system really works.

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10 hours ago, Quarter Note said:

We will never stop - because I myself still memorize poetry!

My eleven-year-old daughter's current favorite is "If" by Rudyard Kipling.  

We also use the SCM memory box system for poetry - and for everything else!  Grammar definitions, science facts, historical points - if it's worth remembering, it goes in the box.  The memory box system really works.

How long does it take you then to go through everything? Do you get push back from the kids with all of that?

Also, "If" is excellent!! How had I never even heard of it? And yet the words are so familiar. It's amazing what I never learned!!

Edited by Emily ZL

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We've always memorized poetry and scriptures.  This past year I allowed the kids to choose their own poems and that brought new life into it.  My oldest always chooses the shortest poem I will approve.  My middle will always chose something funny.  And the youngest will always choose a poem about animals.  It's funny to see their personalities come out.  :)  

Sometimes I'm sad when years later they don't remember poems we spent a lot of time on.  I thought they would remember them forever.  But then they will bring up one I had totally forgotten, as if it was yesterday when we last read it.  We go over our poems during our Morning Time sessions and I've started using Fridays as a day to go back and review poems from the past. 

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13 hours ago, Emily ZL said:

How long does it take you then to go through everything? Do you get push back from the kids with all of that?

Also, "If" is excellent!! How had I never even heard of it? And yet the words are so familiar. It's amazing what I never learned!!

It usually takes 30 - 45 minutes, depending on the day.  My kids don't give me push back, but that's because they've never known school without it.  But, here's my top secret:  We always do it during morning snack, and that keeps them happy.

Isn't "If" a great poem?  I'm so glad that you've discovered it!  I'm hoping that for my kids it will be a lifelong encouragement.

Have fun!

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The longest "poems" mine have memorized are the sung Gloria and Credo in Latin, just from singing them over and over and over on Sundays. It's humbling that I haven't pulled myself together enough to get them to memorize anything that long in English.

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Slightly tangential, but I just discovered yourdailypoem.com. Never having been much of a poetry reader, I am trying to increase both my and my children's exposure. We've gone through AO's poems list for Year 1, and while there are good ones, there are also a number of poems that are dated. I wouldn't necessarily use all the poems on yourdailypoem, but it's a nice resource to consult. I also just have to share this poem, because it is fun and makes me smile.

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