Saturday, September 13, 2008

Review: Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization

I have been looking at this program for a while now, but could not decide if it was really worth it. It seems like the sort of think I could do myself, without buying a "program". Not sure why I finally caved - except I have a curriculum addiction that makes it hard to say no!
First, for anyone who has any doubts about the benefits of memory work, read this article here.
Now that you are convinced :) - go buy this program NOW!
Seriously though, I am very pleased with the purchase. The program consists of a spiral bound booklet with 4 levels of poems and a CD set with the poems recited by the author. Within the booklet is a very thorough discussion of not just why we should have our children memorize, but also why it is important they memorize poetry (good poetry, not that Shel Silverstein cr*p). The author (Andrew Pudewa) points out that in his years of teaching, the one thing children seem to be lacking the most is the ability to write well. He argues that "you can't get something out of a child's brain that isn't there to begin with." We cannot expect our children to write well if their head's are not full of examples of excellent writing. He proposes that poetry is a most effective method for "creating a large database in [the child's] brain of reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns." Poetry is easy to memorize, and full of higher vocabulary they may not be exposed to in every day reading. Poetry is full of imagery, beautiful language and sophisticated sentence structures. Children are going to fill their heads with something, so we can select what goes in, or we can allow them to go into default memorization mode where the brain stores the lyrics to every commercial jingle and pop song they hear (there are some good language patterns for you!).
Examples of poems chosen are At the Seaside (R.L. Stevenson), Trees (Kilmer), The Tiger (Blake) and The Hunting of the Dragon (Chesterton). The selections get longer and more sophisticated as you proceed through the levels, but there are plenty of simple and appealing poems in the early level that even Kindergartners can join in on the fun (the Queen has already memorized the first two poems with her brother and sister).
The only drawbacks I can see to this program are 1)cost ($65) and 2) the author's voice. Reason 2 is what made me hesitate for so long, as I have heard others complain that his voice is not what they expected and some found it too high-pitched. I would suggest you go watch this YouT*be video to see for yourself, but I found that it really was an overblown issue, and it has not bothered the kids at all. Reason 1 caused me to pause and consider only buying the book ($24), but I am so grateful I did not. It is well worth having all the poems already recorded (rather than me recording them myself), and it is a good chance for the kids to hear someone other than mom teach them! I downloaded the CD's to my i-P*d, and each morning we recite all the poems we are working on. The kids can listen to them when they want to review, and I don't have to do anything! For those with a bit of patience, it is possible to find a used set for cheaper on such boards at WTM. With four levels, I anticipate using this program for the next 3-4 years with the first two kids. The booklet also includes a series of charts to help you establish a pattern of reviewing the poems and to help each child track the poems they have memorized. In all, I think it is an excellent tool, and is quickly becoming a favorite activity in our household.

5 comments:

Erin said...

Thanks for posting this. I may have to look into it. We love memory work, too. And we love R.L Stevenson. So . . . my question is, why do you choose to do the poems? Not that I don't love the opportunity to memorize good poetry, (I've always loved it since I was a kid), I just wondered, do you also do Psalms? The majority of our memory work so far has been from the psalms. The fun benefit is that 7yo can now recite the psalms for Small Compline and can do Psalm 50 at church for Matins. And he recently told me he thinks David was the best poet ever.

On the other hand, we're both having a blast right now memorizing a part of Marc Antony's speech from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. It goes nicely with our history and I just couldn't resist having him do it. He loves knowing that I memorized it in tenth grade and he's doing it now.

Erin said...

Love the whole family beach pic!!

she who must be obeyed said...

good question about the Psalms, and it is interesting because I just had this conversation with Kh. Lara! She chose to do poems at this stage with her children (though her girls sing for most of the week day services, so they get lots of practice on the Psalms). We actually do both - we have a memory box for memory work that includes work in science, latin, Bible and poetry. So for us it is not an either/or, we do both. We spend about 10 minutes each morning on recitation - going over all the areas of our memory work.

she who must be obeyed said...

erin - btw - saw your mom yesterday! :)

Erin said...

I know - she told me! Word travels fast!