In our explorations of Oregon this year, the Amethyst Kids are diving deep into geography by studying 10 sets of place names, in the spirit of deepening our sense of place: (1) Illinois Valley Place Names, (2) Oregon Mountain Ranges, (3) Oregon Rivers, (4) Oregon Tribal Nations, (5) Oregon Cities, (6) Oregon Counties ... and to recognize Oregon's place within larger spaces, (7) USA State Names, (8) USA Capital Names, (9) Canadian Provinces & Territories, and (10) Mexican States.
We quiz ourselves once each week, most intent upon measuring the growth of our knowledge from week to week. Most weeks are open-ended, with children choosing which geography set they'd like their memorization minds to encounter, although sometimes we will all focus on the same place names, working together towards remembering.
Memorizing facts isn't the most important piece of learning -- far from it -- yet it's still useful, and often exciting, to learn the names ascribed to places, or at least the names we tend to use today. Memorization is also an opportunity for the children to get to know their brains a bit more: If there are many ways to learn, such as writing it down, talking it out, singing it loud, dancing as we verbally repeat, quizzing our friends, flipping through flashcards, closing our eyes to visualize, and discussing it all ... well, then, which ways work best with my brain?