One way to help children to think about quotes and memorize them is to turn them into a kind of puzzle, with jumbled-up cards. For example, let’s say that the quote to be memorized is “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens”. The teacher would gather up small index cards or strips of paper, and on each of these, write one or two words of the quote. So the first card might say “The earth”, the second one, “is but”, and so on. These cards would be shuffled and presented to the children during the class; they would have to rearrange the cards in the correct order, such that they spell out the entire quote. Just like a regular jigsaw puzzle, younger children would benefit from a puzzle with fewer pieces; older children can be given a puzzle with more pieces, perhaps one for each word.
That’s only the start of it, though. There are plenty more things you can do with the cards to help the process of memorization along:
- Ask the children to recite the quote by reading all the cards in order. Then, remove the cards one by one, each time asking them to recite the whole quote (along with the missing words). Eventually, they’ll be able to recite the whole quote even though all the words are missing.
- Give a card to each child, and ask them to draw an object or a scene that represents the word on that card (excluding words like “the”, “a”, “and” and so forth). For example, a drawing of a globe might represent “earth”, and a group of different people circling around the globe might represent “mankind”. Words that describe concepts that are more abstract or difficult to draw can be represented by drawings of simpler, related concepts, for example, a flag for “country” and a passport for “citizens”.
- Ask the children to close their eyes while you hide the pieces of the quote throughout the classroom. The children must then gather all the pieces and arrange them in order.
- If you have about the same number of words in a quote as there are children in the class, you can play a ranking game based on the children’s height, age, birth date, or some other continuous quality. For example, ask the children to line up in order of the tallest to the shortest, or youngest to oldest, or the earliest birth date (e.g. Jan. 1st) to the latest (e.g. Dec. 31st). Next, distribute the cards to the children randomly, and then ask them to exchange cards until the order of the words matches the order of the line, that is: The first child in the line holds the first word, the second child in line holds the first word, and so on.