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Review of IEW's Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review
We have never used a product from Institute for Excellence in Writing that we didn't love, so it's no surprise at all that we are all infatuated with Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization
Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review'
This poetry memorization course is, on one level, just that, but like all things IEW, it is in reality so much more! The course itself comes with the following materials (cost is $65.00):
  • A Teacher's Manual with 96 poems and speeches, including biographies of the poets/speech makers, certificates and memory charts, and instructions
  • All of the poems and speeches read on 5 CDs ("It's Mr. Pudewa!" was the cry raised in my house...)
  • A bonus DVD of Andrew Pudewa's talk "Nurturing Competent Communicators"
  • A super convenient and handsome leather-look CD case to keep it all together
  • A free downloadable student e-book with all of the poems for easy reference (you can also buy a hard copy of the Student Book, which IEW was generous enough to send me!)
  • Downloads of seven mp3 talks for Mr. Pudewa's
    • Nurturing Competent Communicators
    • Master Learning, Ability Development, and Individualized Education
    • Ten Thousand Times and then Begins Understanding
    • On Listening
    • On Speaking
    • On Reading
    • On Writing
There are five different levels of poems in this course. It is recommended that all students, regardless of age, start with Level 1. At first, I was a bit skeptical of this recommendation, as my kids have been doing poetry memorization for years (what homeschooler hasn't?). Of course, I deferred to IEW, though. For one thing, I was having all four of my kids do this course together (how wonderful to have the 11, 11, 12, and 14 together again!), so I had to have them working on the same level. The thing is, apart from the first couple, it's not like the Level 1 poems are "easy." There's nothing wrong with starting at the beginning. 


What We Did with It

The first thing I did was to watch the DVD on "Nurturing Competent Communicators." I always think it's funny when different parts of my world collide. Many people have met Andrew Pudewa at homeschool conferences, but I met him at my daughter's debate tournament (where she debated his son, so when he talks about communicators, I know that on some level, he and I really do speak the very same language (as I was a debater in high school and I am raising a slew of them now)). All that aside, though, this really is an excellent talk. Mr. Pudewa nails so many things squarely on the head, including why we memorize at all. Having this DVD included in the set makes it a huge value add. 

I had already heard several of the mp3 talks, so I didn't think it was necessary to listen to all of them before getting started.

Really this is quite possibly the easiest IEW course we have ever used in terms of hitting the ground running. It's all done for you - even the reading of the poems. Now, I like reading poetry to my kids; I always have. To that end, I did the initial reading of each poem with my children. We did, however, definitely listen to Mr. Pudewa's interpretation. My kids love it when we use anything IEW; they react like they are hearing an old friend when they hear him speak! 

As with all things IEW, the books are laid out so well!




Because we have been memorizing things since the kids were little, we already have a system of memorizing one stanza at a time, then adding the previous stanza, etc. For the early poems, which are very short, this basically meant memorizing the entire poem right off the bat. Because my kids are veteran memorizers, they had the first 5 poems down after just over one week. After learning a new poem, they would add the previous poem(s) to make sure they didn't lose anything. Fear not if you're not sure how best to accomplish this accretion: Mr. Pudewa tells you how in the Teacher's Manual!


There is just so much to love about this course. Although we used it as straight-up memorization, the Teacher's Manual has enrichment activities that would enable you to expand it to so much more (such as looking at worms while memorizing Ooey-Gooey (the first poem in Level One). You can be as flexible as you want. And if you're working with younger kids, you'll surely appreciate the coloring that accompanies every poem!

Mr. Pudewa discusses the fact that poems have to engage their audiences with their subject matter, and you'll find that these poems do just that. When we discovered Hillaire Belloc early in the book, I immediately grabbed one of my poetry books and raced to find "Matilda Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death," one of my all-time favorite poems (and one that I have been reading to my kids since they were little - we are huge Belloc fans in my house; it might be a Catholic thing). Imagine my joy when I found that poem later on in the IEW book! They really do care about subject matter and don't shy away from, er, more gruesome poems! 

Unlike many of my peers (I'm 41), I did memorize poetry in school. Maybe it was just the G/T program in my school that did so - I don't know. I do know that I have "Little Orphant Annie" by James Whitcomb Riley memorized to this day. My husband (who went to Catholic school) also memorized poetry. Because this is an experience I want my children to have, they have memorized poetry from a very young age. How wonderful to have such a great resource all in one place for doing so. No more my haphazard pulling together just of poems I happen to love!

I really can't recommend this resource enough. You are getting so much! A great DVD, which is like your own personal workshop with Andrew Pudewa, seven mp3 talks, a comprehensive Teacher's Manual, and even a downloadable Student Book! Don't take my word for it, though. Click the banner below to read about many other Crew families who are in love with IEW's Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization!

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization  IEW Review
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