Top tips for memorising poetry?

(11 Posts)
Fobwatch Tue 02-Oct-12 14:54:36

DD is nearly six and has a four stanza poem to learn off by heart for homework. We are in France, if it matters, where rote learning of poetry is a big part of the curriculum and considered essential to prepare kids for the rote learning required for conjugation of verbs.

Any brill tips on how to help her memorise the poem?

I have read it aloud to her many times, we have recited it together, we practise one stanza at a time...but she does not have it down pat at all. Grateful for tips.

Bonsoir Tue 02-Oct-12 14:58:34

We are also in France.

Read the poem out loud to her (I imagine her reading isn't perfect yet) a few times, with lots of expression.

Then read it two lines at a time, getting her to repeat the two lines after you. Once she can do that wordperfect, read it four lines at a time. Etc.

MissBetseyTrotwood Tue 02-Oct-12 15:17:12

As well as what Bonsoir suggests could she draw it out as a comic strip or some sort of sequence of pictures? She could include lines from the poem as labels or speech bubbles etc.

She could record it and play it back to herself.

She could write it out herself and stick it up in an easy to see place. (I stuck my irregular Spanish verbs to my bedroom ceiling above my bed but at 6 this may be a bridge too far.) grin

Tinuviel Tue 02-Oct-12 20:36:40

We home ed and have always learned poetry. I suppose it depends on how long she has to learn it. We always tried to do 3 times, 3 times a day. So I would say the poem 3 times and they would join in gradually with the bits they remembered until they could do all of it. DD prefers to see the words a few times, the boys are quite happy to just chime in with me as and when they are ready.

maillotjaune Fri 05-Oct-12 09:35:17

Sing it. Does it fit with a tune you already know, or could you make up a tune?

All my sons seem to learn words of songs very easily, so that's our method for learning poetry if they need help.

SuiGeneris Mon 08-Oct-12 14:17:47

Am Italian and we started learning poems by heart in nursery school. I used to love it and still remember many to this day.

First make sure she understands what the words mean, then read it to her once or twice emphasising the rhythm and rhymes.

Then learn line by line within the rhyme, for example, if the poems structure is a-b-a-b, learn line a1, then b1, then a2, then repeat a1-b1-a2, then add b2 and repeat a1-b1-a2-b2, etc.

Takver Mon 08-Oct-12 17:49:43

In Wales here, they start learning poems (to recite at the Eisteddfod) from Reception onwards - in 'poetic' Welsh - and in dd's case at a school where probably 90% of children don't speak Welsh at all before they start!

They all seem to manage it ok, although admittedly in the younger years they spend quite a lot of time working on it in class (I think quite a bit of that is about reciting, voice projection etc mind you).

If your dd can read, the easiest way I know is to sit down with the poem covered with a blank sheet of paper, say the first line to yourself then slide the sheet down to check it, repeat to bottom of first stanza then recover & go through that stanza again, repeat to end.

'Retelling' the poem in her own words can also help (so long as it isn't in archaic french that neither you nor she understands grin )

dotty2 Mon 08-Oct-12 17:59:25

There is a book of poems edited by Ted Hughes which I bought when the DCs were small in an attempt to commit something other than the Owl and the Sodding Pussy Cat to memory. (possibly called 'By Heart') I failed, but it suggested a technique that was about using mental images to link the words. So 'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips' red;' etc - you imagine the sun with an eyeball on top of it, and then a piece of coral with the lips sitting on it - really see it in your mind. Orators learning long speeches by heart used to use an imaginary room or house and put images in different 'rooms' they could walk through in their mind. It didn't work for me - but maybe worth a go.

katherineptinytalk Thu 11-Oct-12 21:40:54

All of these ideas sound worth a go, particularly understanding the poem and images that the poet is trying to create in the reader / listeners mind and thinking about the rising and falling tone to use, the 'voices' and varying speed that the words are intended to be read at. Discussion of these points will add another dimension to the exercise anyway... What I actually wanted to suggest was to make sure the last stanza is really secure so that the performer is confident of a good ending. I first came across this learning piano pieces by heart but have used the technique in various ways since. Currently teaching TinyTalk baby signing, I'm learning a new half hour sequence of songs, rhymes, signs and guidance every week. Surprisingly it gets easier so it's great to hear how many children are being encouraged to pick up this skill at an early stage.

Saracen Sun 14-Oct-12 04:01:51

My drama teacher encouraged us to start from the end. Start with, say, the last two lines. Once you have those down, do the previous two lines and carry on to the end of the poem. And so forth.

This method means that you will know the end of the poem better than the beginning, which prevents you from petering out halfway through. If you're standing up there trying to recite your poem and you forget a bit, you just skip ahead to the part you know better and sail down to the end. Oftentimes, you can pull it off so that people won't even notice that a bit is missing. (Possibly a bit more relevant for the stage - where the show must go on - but also useful for memorising other stuff.)

Just before standing up to recite, you take a few moments to swot up on the beginning, which is the part you know least well. Then you can spit the tricky bit out before you have a chance to forget it!

It's helpful psychologically because you aren't distracted early on by the fear that you will be unable to remember the later lines. You know that the further in you get, the easier it will become. It also means that what sticks in the mind of your audience was what they heard last, which was your beautiful fluency toward the end. They'll forget that you stumbled slightly at the start.

Tricccky Thu 18-Oct-12 22:27:32

Love that Saracen. Will definitely keep that tactic up my sleeve.

I have found with my DS, who is a little younger but seems to have a memory geared for this kind of thing which I'm keen to build on (was able to recite entire books from memory at 2) that reading it a lot but progressively dropping out words for him to replace seems to work well. So to start with, dropping just the rhyming words at the end of each line, the next time dropping the word before as well, and so on until you're dropping entire lines.

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