Tips for Using Musical Memory in Your Homeschool

It can take a while to figure out how to best incorporate memorization into your homeschool day.

The key to long-term mastery is exposure & repetition in the every-day practice. Don’t stress out if your 5 year old can’t pronounce “conjugation” correctly on the 2nd try. Keep playing the songs, keep playing echo games, keep practicing the words slowly and trust the process.

It takes time, but the longer we’ve worked on memorizing (especially through song), the more convinced I am that it’s a valuable part of our curriculum.

teaching tips musical memory work homeschool

When to Practice

Musical Memory is a GREAT family subject. Kids of all ages benefit in different ways from memorization.

Think through what works well in your homeschool already, and add Musical Memory in a way that makes sense for your rhythms.

If you have lingering breakfasts, print the weekly overview sheets to keep on the breakfast table and turn on the week’s songs the last 10 minutes of the meal.

If you spend a lot of time in the car, keep the printed weekly overview sheets in binders in the car, and practice it during drive time.

If you rotate through working 1-on-1 with children, set up a Musical Memory station with headphones & a CD player where your child can listen independently and follow along with the weekly printable sheets.

If you have lots of young children in your home, announce “Musical Memory Time!!” enthusiastically and bring out a special Musical-Memory-Time activity to keep their hands busy. (Legos, Magnatiles, play dough, beading pasta or cheerios, and puzzles have been a few of our faves!) Just let them play and listen and don’t worry too much about “practicing” it for now. If you play the yearly album and various subject playlists for a year, even your 3 year old will internalize way more than you’d expect. You’ll be shocked how easily he will master it a couple years later.

We’ve done all of the above at various times in our family. Currently, we work on Musical Memory as part of our “morning time” a couple days a week (along with other things). The rest of the days, we practice in the car or during afternoon snack time.

More Ideas

Before the week starts – grab your weekly overview sheet (sample pictured below) and write it all out somewhere. This isn’t necessary (you can just play the songs), but the visual is a helpful addition if you want to work towards mastery.

For kids who are already reading, you could print each child their own copy if you want. I like writing it all on a white board.

  • Day 1 – 15-30 minutes introducing all new material
  • Day 2 – 4 – 15 minutes reviewing this week’s material
  • Day 5 – 15-30 minutes reviewing material from previous weeks.

Pretend it’s Week 1 of the homeschool year! On Day 1 of the week, I usually do the following for each subject one at a time:

  • Read Math Week 1 once.
  • Have the kids repeat Math Week 1 phrase by phrase after me, slowly. They can read from the board/ paper if they want. Sometimes we erase or cover up some of the words as we learn it to make it more challenging.
  • Read/ say Math Week 1 all together (the non-readers just listen along).
  • Listen to the Math Week 1 song 2-3 times. (Most songs are only 15-30 seconds.)
  • Repeat for each subject.

The key to the above process is to keep things fun & moving quickly. If your kids are very young, just do that for one subject per day so the session doesn’t get too long. Don’t get frustrated if they don’t want to repeat the whole thing or make mistakes. Keep your attitude positive. You don’t want Memorization practice to be something they dread.

A positive attitude, exposure & repetition over many years go a long way.

Minimal Prep Games for Practicing Musical Memory

If your family likes using games in homeschooling, here are some easy ideas that work well with Musical Memory.

I like having my Quick Look Subject Overview sheets on hand for review games for reference.

  • Dice games – Write 1-6 on a whiteboard or paper and label each number with an action or silly voice. Have the kids roll the dice & practice one memory work item with whatever they roll. 
Ignore the 7 in the picture above! We were playing this game to practice skip counting songs at the time. You don’t need the number cards for most Musical Memory practice.
  • Tic Tac Toe – One child is X, you are O. (Or have kids play against each other.) If the child can say or sing the sentence correctly, they get to place their X or O. If they get it wrong, the other person gets a turn to try it.
  • Build Something – Put a pile of legos, blocks, pattern blocks, tinker toys, brain flakes, etc. in the center of the floor/ table. Whoever can say the memory work gets a few building pieces for each correct sentence. The more than can say, the more they build. 
  • Basketball – Grab something that can work as a ball (ball, stuffed animal, crumpled up paper) & something that can work as the basket (laundry basket, trash can, etc.). Mark tape on the floor for various points. Have a child say one Musical Memory sentence at a time. If they get it correct, they can shoot a basket.
  • Jenga – Label Jenga blocks with weeks and/or subjects. The blocks can say: Math, Bible, Grammar, Latin, etc. Stack them like Jenga and have each person say one sentence from whichever subject block they pull out. 
  • Activity Memory Work – Say it while jumping on the trampoline, jump-roping, squats, etc. Or with multiple children, have them ride their bikes/ scooters up and down the block and every time they get back to you, they have to check in and say 2 memory items.
  • Stick Points – You’ll need a jar of popsicle sticks. Write 1 on 10 sticks, 5 on 7 sticks, and 10 on 5 sticks. For every correct memory work item, the child(ren) pick a stick to see how many points they earned. Play until they earn a certain amount as a group or have children compete against each other if it works in your family. 

You can always turn the songs on to help during these games. Basically any game or activity your child enjoys can be turned into a Memory Work game. Find what works for your family.

We mostly do songs or a quick review for our current week’s material Monday-Thursday. Sometimes we do an easy active game if kids are squirrely. (Like the action dice game.) During cold weather months, we usually do a fun game on Friday to review several weeks’ worth of materials. To keep things simple, I just pick 1 or 2 games for the semester & rotate between them.

Keep it Fun!

I can not overemphasize how important is to keep your Musical Memory sessions short & fun.

The parent sets the tone. Don’t make it something to “get through.”

Avoid the temptation to snap at your kids for being silly or not taking it seriously. This is the perfect subject to be silly with! Wiggle & dance & let them jump off the furniture while you blast the Musical Memory songs. Let them practice while doing headstands against the wall.

Stick with it, little by little, a few songs at a time. Eventually, you will start to see your child have one lightbulb moment after another as they make meaningful connections between the hundreds of 15-30 second songs they’ve learned and something they come across in their schoolwork or the real world.

Try 2 Weeks of Musical Memory Free!