Memorize the Preamble to the Constitution.

March 25, 2009


We do a bit of memorizing here and there.  In the past we’ve mostly done scripture verses, poems the kids pick out, and the infamous times tables.

Just last week, though, I thought it might be fun to look at some other famous bits of writing.  I tried to think of what I had memorized in school, and scraps of the Preamble to the Constitution came to mind – a bit jumbled, but most of the parts intact. 🙂  And then my husband started singing it and told me where he’d learned the song from:

Did you know that Schoolhouse Rock did a little short film on the Preamble?  It’s cute and fun, and the kids pick it up pretty quickly after listening to it a few times.

(Just make sure to add “of the United States” after “We the people” at the beginning if you want the accurate Preamble.)

And introducing the Preamble turned into a great discussion with my 9-year-old.  By the time we talked about justice, welfare, a perfect union, liberty, and a fair bit of early American history, we had a great ‘session’ of ‘school’.  What is life about?  Why were those ideas important enough to fight for?  How are those ideas present, or not, in our lives, our homes, today?  It was great fun!  Those are the conversations with my children that I consider priceless.  

And I just started by looking for a bit of something to memorize and stretch the brain.  Isn’t homeschooling great?

Do you do much memorizing in your families?  If so, what types of things do you memorize, and do you have a method that you could share with us?

Posted under History Curriculum, Memorizing Facts

The Memory Book – I wish I had this when I was in school!

January 16, 2009

Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian

If you’ve noticed, I’ve been writing a few memory-themed posts lately.  By the time I finished medical school, I’d probably memorized and then forgotten enough information to fill shelves and shelves of books. 

My two main memory techniques in school were:

  • Repeat over and over and over and over and . . .
  • Cram like crazy the day or two before the test and hope it sticks.  I was an expert crammer!

It was only when I started teaching my own kids that I thought there had to be a better way.  I found this book at the library and groaned when I realized how much it could have helped me: The Memory Book

It’s a $7 book and one that should be on every school shelf.  Click on the book to get a copy from Amazon, or check it out at your local library and let me know what you think.  To read more posts about memorizing, check out everything I’ve written in this category.

Posted under Books to Read, Memorizing Facts

Memorize with Us: The Siver Pen and Hairy H’s (Pennsylvania Facts)

January 15, 2009

Welcome to our series using fun memory techniques to quickly memorize facts. 

The State of Pennsylvania Silly Fact Story

 (Location: Examine the map and imagine the rectangle pulled up in the middle to make the mountain in the story. Imagine the story taking place on the map.)

Once upon a time, there was a pen made from beautiful silver who was very vain and kept herself polished and sparkly at all times. (pen + silver + vain = Pennsylvania)


But she still wasn’t happy and wanted to know how to be even more beautiful.. She heard about a mountain where a wise flower grew named Lord L. He was said to have the answer to any question. (State flower = Mountain Laurel)


So, she started up the mountain, but was wearing her fancy shoe and kept tripping. After she had skinned her knee over and over, she took off her one fancy shoe and went barefoot. (knee = ‘n’ sound = the number 2 using the Major System = 2nd State to ratify the Constitution)


It started getting colder and colder and she had no clothes.  Brr!  She looked for something to put on and saw a bunch of capital H’s hopping around the mountain. The monster H’s were covered in so much hair they couldn’t see a thing, so the silver pen was able to sneak up and rip bits of hair from them, lick it (yuck!) and stick it all over her body to keep her from being cold. Brrr!

(capital H + hair + brr = Harrisburg is the capital city) 

“Give me some of that! I’m cold, too,” said a big mean elf who ran up. The elf stole more and more of her hair, using it to fill his shirt, sleeves, and pant legs so he would be warm. Finally, the huge filled elf waddled off, round as a ball and warm and toasty. (huge + filled + elf = the biggest city is Philadelphia)

The pen only had a little bit of hair left to keep her warm when a whole flock of birds came shrieking out of the sky, pecked the last bits of hair off of her, pooped on her, and flew away to make their nests with the hair. The once beautiful pen looked down at herself. Her smooth pen body was rough from the pecking birds and gross from the bird poop. “Rough. Gross!” She said and cried. She wished she’d stayed home and been happy with what she had. (bird + rough + gross = the state bird is the Ruffed Grouse)

This story uses the keyword technique, linking, and the mnemonic major system

If you liked this Silly Fact Story, check out:

Bonus:  Plus, if you’re studying Pennsylvania, here is a page FULL of information for a Pennsylvania Mini-Unit Study – history, maps, recipes, crafts, etc. etc.

Posted under Memorizing Facts

Memorize with Us (Story Tricks): The story of Dell and the pool full of blue chickens.

January 12, 2009

Did you have trouble memorizing facts in school?  Would you like to make memorizing fun and easy for you and your kids?  Read this silly story to them and see how easy it is.  Check back and learn more fun facts with us:

The State of Delaware Silly Fact Story

Take a look at the maps (and point it out to your kids) while you read the following story and picture it taking place on this tiny little state on the Eastern edge of the U.S.  (You can make the pool in the story be the Delaware Bay)

Once upon a time, there was a Dell laptop computer who arrived at a pool party with nothing to wear.  After trying on swimsuit after swimsuit, he couldn’t find one that fit, so he decided to wear a tie instead.  

When he came out of the dressing room, he slipped in the smashed, pink, peach goo that coated the pool deck.  There were peach trees in full blossom all around the pool. 

Slipping and very sticky, he tried to get to the pool, but there was a huge metal capital letter ‘D’ sculpture blocking his way.  He backed up, ran as best he could in the goo and dove over (dover) into the blue pool.

But, it wasn’t blue with water.  Instead, the pool was filled with blue hen chickens (no boys allowed)!  As the Dell was drowning under the hens,  he quickly carved his will into the concrete side of the pool, broke out the heavy piece of concrete, wrapped it in a mink shawl to keep it warm, and threw it up to the pool deck.  The will, made out of concrete, weighed a ton, so it fell back into the pool and sank.

Now Review:

  • What state?  Dell + wear = Delaware.  This uses the keyword memory technique, seperating the sounds in a word, translating them into images, and making a silly visual with them.
  • Which state was it to join the Union? tie = the consonant sound ‘t’ or ‘d’ = the number 1 = the first state.  This is the major number system, which takes a little practice to learn, but is very powerful for translating numbers into sounds and letters, so you can make pictures which are much easier for us to remember than numbers.  More on this later.
  • What is the state flower?  Sticky smashed peaches = The peach blossom.  More keyword technique.  Plus now you add this to a running storyline to link Dover to Delaware.  This is called linking.
  • What is the capital?  capital D + dove + over = Dover.  
  • What is the state bird?  Instead of blue water = The blue hen chicken
  • What is the largest city?  will + mink + ton = Wilmington. 
  • Finally, can you pick out Delaware on a map?

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Posted under Geography, Memorizing Facts