When I was a child, I thought I didn't like poetry. To me, "poetry" was long, imagery-filled verses of tales that were hard to understand and impossible to enjoy. The funny thing is, though, that while I was busy hating poetry I was memorizing fun little snippets of rhyme like Great, Wide, Beautiful, Wonderful World, The Barefoot Boy, bits and pieces of The Walrus and the Carpenter, and even (almost) in its entirety, The Lady of Shalott.
I mention this because as an adult I enjoy inserting poetic quotes into my day. We often tell the children, "The time has come, the Walrus said, to brush your teeth and go to bed" which is not exactly how it goes but gets the point across. Or when they are fighting I can laugh, "Little birdies in their nests agree." My husband stirs them to action by exclaiming, "Once more into the breech, dear fellows!" Or when I leave the house I give Shakespeare himself a twist by declaring, "Farewell, Sweet Prince; and flights of angels sing thee to they rest."
As our kids have grown older, they easily identify with these poems when they encounter them in their books. They also have started mimicking us by memorizing their own favorite poems and tossing quotes from them into our daily lives. It's fun.
There are a lot of other advantages to learning poetry: building a vocabulary; teaching correct language patterns; strengthening the connections of neurons in the brain; giving a sense of accomplishment and more. These advantages are talked about and explained in the program itself.
This program consists of a Teacher's Manual and five CDs plus a bonus DVD. In the Teacher's Manual are instructions for downloading a digital, printable Student e-book. This is a PDF and you can print off as many copies as you need for your family. Or you can buy a printed copy of the Student Book if you prefer. We were given a physical copy as well as the download for the purpose of this review, but it doesn't actually come with the set. Also included are seven audio MP3s that you can download and listen to. These aren't so much a part of the program as they explain the methodology behind the program. These talks are:
- Nurturing Competent Communicators (you also get a hard copy DVD of this with your CDs)
- Mastery Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
- Ten Thousand Times and Then Begins Understanding
- On Listening
- On Speaking
- On Reading
- On Writing
The Teacher's Manual is a soft cover, spiral bound book with instructions on how to implement this approach to memory work. It also has a copy of every poem or speech for all five levels. In the very back are biographies of the authors of the poems and speeches, and lesson enhancements. These enhancements are suggestions on ways to inject some science, history, literary devices, and even irony (we love us some irony around here!) into your poetry memorization.
The Student e-book (and the printed version as well) have copies of the poems and speeches for all five levels with (in the lower levels) illustrations. Simple, line drawn, but engaging illustrations that your child can color if they like as they work on the poem. This gives your child their very own copy of the work.
The CDs are audio versions of Andrew Pudewa reading each poem aloud, slowly and clearly.
The way Poetry Memorization works is quite simple. It is highly recommended that every student, no matter their age, starts at the very first poem. The pace is set by the student, because you are working for mastery, that is, complete memorization of each poem. There is a simple four step method to follow that involves both auditory and visual learning. This method only takes a few minutes a day and we found it very easy to slip into our daily group time schedule.
When the poem is fully memorized, it goes into a review rotation that is detailed in the book. There is a chart in the Student book that helps with this. After your child has memorized 20 poems, they are given the chance to choose their own piece. They then start Level Two.
We have really enjoyed this method of memorization. I was amazed at how it all worked together to make the work so much easier. We have struggled for years to do scheduled memory work and never were able to pull it off. I had a hard time choosing what to learn, the kids never seemed to make any progress and I usually gave up after only a few weeks, Now, not only do I have a list of good, quality pieces, the kids are quickly and easily memorizing them. When I first looked at this, it seemed like too simplistic of a idea to actually work. But it really does. And because it is so simple we don't dread it like our old method of trying to say it from memory before it was really in our memory. It takes a few minutes each day and we can see steady progress.
I love IEW because I believe they produce quality products that really help my kids learn and to truly enjoy the process. I love listening to the talks that included with the purchase, Andrew Pudewa is always inspiring. I love that their products are as non consumable as possible. So as I always do when I review their products, I heartily recommend Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization.