How to teach your child sciences and encyclopedic knowledge

This section started as a purely Doman approach to teaching Encyclopedic Knowledge, but grew into a more comprehensive list of materials for learning about various sciences and fun topics. Encyclopedic Knowledge Materials Books Pick Yourselves a Subject to Learn: categories and units of study Encyclopedic Knowledge Materials at other sites: English; Spanish; Other Languages How to teach Encyclopedic Knowledge How to make your own materials Buy materials

Encyclopedic Knowledge Materials

A-D * Animals * Art: Painting * Art: Architecture, etc. * Astronomy * Chemistry E-H * Earth Sciences * General Culture * Geography * History * Human Physiology I-O * Literature * Mathematics * Music P-Z * Physics * Plants * Religion * Transportation

What is intelligence? According to Glenn Doman intelligence is “a product of three things: the ability to read; the ability to do math; the amount of encyclopedic knowledge one has.” (How to Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, Glenn Doman, 2001, p. xi. From now on GD) Well, we’ve all heard that child’s brain is getting formed by 5 and in the first 3-5 years the child learns faster and easier then ever before. Glenn Doman goes further: “It is easier to teach a one-year-old, then to teach a six-year-old” (GD, p. xi). Glenn Doman is the only one I know who provides some suggestions on teaching kids encyclopedic knowledge, but if you know anybody else, please comment below!

How to teach Encyclopedic Knowledge

  • Get started
  • Rules
  • How to show cards

Get Started First and foremost, don’t be lazy: get a book How to Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge by Glenn Doman and read it. Second, Glenn Doman recommends starting with reading. Reading is the staple of the knowledge. If you haven’t yet, review our brief summary of his reading method, and jump start section for getting the materials, knowledge on creating materials, cards, computer presentations, etc. The next program Doman recommends is math. His dot system relies on a fact that kids still are able to recognize quantities visually. Without use, this ability gets lost very fast and Doman’s method of learning math becomes useless. Check out our Math learning section for tips on learning mathematics with little kids. According to Doman, once you are comfortable with your reading and math programs, you are ready for the Encyclopedic Knowledge. What most of the parents say, is that their kids love this program the most. So I think that you can start this program whenever you are ready – your child might like it so much, that it can even give a good boost to your reading and math programs. Here you can find a summary, or rather – a cheat sheet. A few rules:

  • Information has to be precise: accurate and appropriate detail
  • Illustration (or drawing) has to be very accurate, of excellent quality
  • Information has to be discrete: one subject only. If the subject is George Washington, on the illustration there shouldn’t be any other people. The illustration should be preferable against white background to eliminate distractions, to make it precise
  • Information has to be unambiguous: “named specifically with a certainty of meaning” – that can be interpreted in only one way. If it is a portrait of George Washington, it should be labeled “George Washington”, not “a president”.
  • Information should be new: something the child doesn’t know yet.

How to Give your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, 1984, p. 84 summarizes it:

  1. It must have accurate detail
  2. It must be one item only. It must not have a confusing background
  3. It must be specifically named
  4. It must be new
  5. It must be large
  6. It must be clear

How to show it?

Same rules apply as with reading cards: stop before your baby wants to stop (always show one card less then the baby has the patience to watch), show cards frequently (3-4 times a day), consistently (maintain the same frequency on a daily basis), very-very quickly (as fast as you can – 10-15 seconds maximum – on second per card). Make sure that your cards are large, clear, with a good-sized border around them, so that your child can see the cards very easily. Sit ~18 inches from your child, so that you don’t obstruct the bit card. The younger the child – the louder and clearer your voice should be. Begin with 5 different Categories with ten cards in each, but adjust this number according to your baby’s wishes (less is more – it should be fun and really desirable for both of you!), show each Category 3 times a day. As your confidence grows you can add more categories. Adding and retiring: after 10 days, retire one card in each category and add a new card instead. Then continue retiring/adding on a daily basis. Once you run out of bit cards, start another Category. For more detailed information on how to show Bits and Programs, see Comments at the end of the article.

How to make your own materials

  • Doman Method
  • Parent’s Methods
  • Computer Presentations

Doman Method

The quality must be very fine. Materials (How to Give your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, 1984, p. 112):

  1. Raw Bits of Intelligence (photos or drawings) – see the rules for Bits of intelligence. Cut out the unnecessary background leaving just the object for an illustration. If there is a group – cut each object individually and eliminate the background. Make sure you have the clearest and most unambiguous label you can find for a title. E.g. “beetle” is too general, “two-spotted ladybird beetle” is correct.
  2. Poster Board – white, two-sided poster cardboard: index board, illustration boards, etc. It shouldn’t “flop” in your hands, should be strong enough for repeated handling. You can as your cardboard precut. Size: 11″x11″ (28cm x 28 cm)
  3. Black “Magic Marker” or other waterproof felt-tipped marker – for writing title and programs of intelligence information on the back
  4. Rubber cement – “we have found that rubber cement is the best vehicle for fixing raw Bits to cardboard.” I guess they recommend it over conventional paper glue-sticks.
  5. Clear “Contact Paper” or laminate (optional) – “ideal Bit of Intelligence” has a clear plastic laminate on both sides. It is ideal because it strengthens the card, making it virtually indestructible as well as making the Bit card impervious to fingerprints and soil.”

(How to Give your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, 1984, p. 119): How to find bits of intelligence

  • Use books, magazines, maps, posters, teaching cards, museum cards.
  • “Treasury of [subject] books” are excellent sources of birds, flowers, insects, mammals

Parent’s Methods

Doman’s method describes an ideal Bit Card, with ideal imagery, information, etc. If you have the time and the resources to proceed letter by letter – you’ll have the best possible materials. I actually believe, that if it takes too long to create the materials – the baby will miss a chance to use them, since you’ll be so busy all the time! There is also a concern, that if you are not able to provide your precious baby with the best of the materials, then it is not even worth doing it. I don’t believe it. Kids are remarkable resilient and can learn from variety of “wrong” materials. As long as you do it joyously, enjoy the process together, and provide anything you can put your hands onto – your baby will learn. Even if the baby wouldn’t remember every latin name of every insect you showed him, or every middle name of every president – it is the brain cells that haven’t died in an everyday decaying process, that matter – the baby will fill those cells with some other data later on. Preserving them is important. So, here are the resources parents have found useful for making bits cards at home.

  • National Geographic magazines are excellent for cutting out pictures of animals
  • Calendars: especially if you can buy them during end of the year/beginning of the year sales, or in second-hand stores, or in dollar stores – beautiful imagery, a little data, and even the size is terrific! I especially love the calendars as the resource for art bits – it already has all the necessary information – name of the painting, year, artist, even a little about the painting itself.
  • Thanks a lot to Julia for sharing this marvelous idea: “I get cheap books at goodwill or salvation army anywhere from $1-$3. They are usually older books sometimes the Time-Life books or old encyclopedias, but the pictures are nice and glossy. I kind of feel like I am recycling because many of these books would end up in a landfill.”

If you come up with some ideas that are not listed in this article, please share it in the comments below!

Computer Presentations

This is my favorite way of making Bit cards. I find it the easiest and I really like that I can show it both on the computer, and print it out as a book or set of cards. We don’t just “retire” cards – I store them in boxes and on bookshelves and we reread the old presentations – my son loves recognizing the familiar images, and I hope that this repetition will actually make some knowledge stick through the years! Doman doesn’t think it is important… but I don’t think it hurts! If we are rereading “Cat in a Hat” ten times a day, why we can’t “reread” “Architectural Masterpieces” or “Solar System”? So,

  • Creating your own Power Point Presentations
  • How To Add Audio to a PowerPoint Slide Presentation

Where to buy the materials

  • Official Doman Materials by Gentle Revolution: Bits of Intelligence. I initially purchased a lot of their sets. These sets are unreasonably expensive. Their animal sets are hideous – they don’t conform to Doman’s first rule – good picture! I couldn’t even recognize a gorilla on that picture, as well as many other animals… very bad quality drawings. I found the information a little to dry as well – later on I found a lot more exciting facts about many of their subjects. Moreover, I found that some sets are mixed up – in primates there is a bit card that definitely supposed to be in mammals (a tree shrew, who is not a primate, while the gorilla probably was intended for primates set). The only sets that we really enjoyed were Explorers, Inventors and musical instruments. Still, our set of inventors came with Thomas Edison missing. We didn’t open all the sets right away, so when I noticed it, too much time has passed to contact the company. My son still keeps referring to Edison, as the “missing person”. I believe many of the sets they sell are better acquired some place else (see the resources below), especially considering their price.
  • Wildlife explorer subscription: every three weeks they send a three sets of large cards (all with wholes, so could be placed in provided binders). Each card contains a large photograph of an animal at the front and a drawing of an animal on the back. The sides, the insides, of the cards are filled with some summarized in boxes facts, and more detailed passages on their habitats, behavior, feeding, breeding, etc. Beautiful photographs, excellent data. I’ve used these cards as animal bits for a long time, discovered tons of animals I’ve never even known! I found it very worth the money (and very time saving!)
  • Classical Composers CD-Subscription: my friend initially signed us up to this as a gift and I love the set that I get every three weeks – 2 CDS dedicated to two different composers. Each contains a little collection of different works of this composer, a little booklet with some information about him, and a nice picture on a front of the booklet. We usually select a composer for the week and listen to his CD, looking through the booklet, at least few times a day. So far Bach is my kid’s favorite and he would discern his style even when we listen to some musical works that we’ve never heard before.
  • More useful music materials can be found in Music section
  • I also found recently in Target $1 card flash card sets: a small picture in front and 10 facts at the back! The pictures are small, so I am planning to redo these cards into presentations, but I am so looking forward to the ease of creating intelligence bits! Usually it takes hours for me to create intelligence bits – reading the articles, separating the important information, etc.
  • I’ve already mentioned this resource for the “making your own bits” – calendars. Terrific pictures, and for artwork, you can find most of the bit information you’ll need as well.
  • Fandex Family Field Guides: Fandex has these “guides” for composers, explorers, painters, tree types, states, etc. I have a set for US States, for composers, for leaves and for flowers. I can’t say I am thrilled about it, but my son loves the composers set: he would swivel cards around while we listen for some CD compilation, matching the picture of the composer to the music we listen. When were were learning the states, we would similarly swivel through the states that I’ve selected for that day, and find them on the big map on the wall. He loved it too.
  • Professor Noggin’s: small card set and a dice. Each card as a drawing at the front, 6 facts at the back (3 easy, 3 hard), phrased as questions. We “play” these cards: roll the dice, pick the question from “Easy” or “Hard” section, try to answer it. We have sets for “Countries of the World”, “Inventions”, “Space”. I wish the cards were large, but at least there are some bits already gathered for me… and there is a fun way to enjoy them through the years to come.
  • U.S. Presidents Pocket Flash Cards: also small, but the pictures are good, clear, and at the back there are 10 facts IN ADDITION to the name of the president and his reign year, birth/death, vice president, term, birthplace, college education, even the first lady! A lot of data, but since it is nicely grouped and under bullet points, it is easy to say it. Once my child was a little older then two, I was comfortable showing him these small cards in addition to the large books I am making. At least they don’t take much space… But I do like big cards.
  • Brighter Child Fact Cards: these cards were highly recommended to me us by Krista from TeachYourChildToRead yahoo group. They appear nice and bright, with a nice collection of facts at the back, but we haven’t used them yet, since many of them are out of stock at amazon. I really like that they use real pictures (where it is possible), and that they are very inexpensive. If you’ve tried them, please share below.

Please share other materials that you’ve purchased for your kid and found useful or useless! I’ve come up with these resources thanks to the kindness and generosity of other parents who were sharing their recommendations and they’ve already saved us a great deal of time, and now I hope – will save some for you as well! Looking forward to hear from you in the comments below or in our forum.

  1. I don’t have the encyclopedic book, as my library doesn’t carry it. I’ve read the reading book twice and then the math book. I was disappointed with how much overlap the math book had. It was painful to read, as there was so much review. Is it really worth buying the encyclopedic book?

    I’ve bought a set of Bits of Intelligence (Land Vehicles) and I’m not clear on how to present them. There are ten informational items on each card and there are ten cards in a set. Do I only read one item on each card and present one item from all ten cards or do I read all ten items off of one card or do I read all ten items for all ten cards. I do understand that the cards are to be presented 3 times a day and old cards are do be cycled out and new cards are to be added.

  2. I was just as disappointed when I bought encyclopedic knowledge book and found out that it is practically the same book! So, I think that you need to buy another book only if you need convincing in your decision to teach the kids Encyclopedic Knowledge. There are a few chapters that explain how the brain is being formed, how beneficial it is to the child’s future development and how, depending on how much information you show, the facts are multiplying in a kid’s head. So if you are already convinced that you’d like to teach your child Encyclopedic Knowledge, I think you can just go ahead and start, especially if you are familiar with reading program.

    The method is similar: you show as many cards as your kid wants to watch (stop before your baby wants to stop, of course), show them as quickly as you can, update frequently. I think the book recommends showing each set of data 3 times a day (much easier then reading!). The book says that first you show just the image and properly name it (not “insect”, but “two spotted ladybird beetle”). Once you have the program started, every time you show the card, you can read ONE fact from the back. Next day – switch to another fact from the back, until you go through all ten. Then retire the card and get a new one!

    The book emphasizes that it is important to group the cards correctly: group of insects, group of primates, group of explorers, group of painters. They also mention that it is better to show less sets of data more frequently, then more sets – rarely and inconsistently.

    Once you are done with all the cards you were able to make for that set, retire it completely and start a new group: e.g. retire types of planes, and start musical instruments.

    That’s it! That’s all there is to it! I think this one is the easiest and the most fun.

  3. Thanks so much for your help, eMommy. I have been reading one fact on each card, for all ten cards. I haven’t been moving to the next fact each day, but now I will thanks to your feedback. Yikes, that means that I need a new set every week and a half! I’m in the process of making a set and it is taking longer than I had hoped. Do you never go back to the cards after they are retired? It seems like my children would need it read to them more than once for it to sink in.

    Yes, it is fun and my older son asks for me to read them to him all the time. I have a hard time stopping before he wants to stop, because he keeps saying “more!”.

  4. I can’t agree, that the book is completely useless. Actually, I liked finding out those details on brain development and directions on how to properly create/organize your cards and sessions. Since you already have the cards, there are some brief directions in the summary of the method above, How to Show Cards, so I’ll just add a few things:

    * When you start introducing the category, you don’t read the facts, you just say joyously something like “I’ve got some insects to show you!” and read the name of each of the bit (say, already mentioned, “two spotted ladybird beetle”).
    * Again, you show as fast as possible, as fast as you can… the faster – the better! Like a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas. No more then 10-15 seconds for entire set of cards (entire Category).
    Honestly, I’ve never learned it. I just show it at the speed I am comfortable, sometimes we take a deeper look, discuss what we see, play with it: if it is a building, we’ll pretend climbing it, if it is a geyzer, we’ll pretend it shoots a hot jet into the water, if it is an internal organ – I’ll point to my son’s body, saying where it is, and if I can – I’ll always add some funny sounds for fun! It is unorthodox, but works for us. “Fast” – never did. So chose whatever works for you.
    * Eliminate distractions from the environment.
    * Reshuffle all cards in the same category after each session – so that the child doesn’t memorize it’s order.
    * Space your sessions during the day.
    * The younger the child – the louder and clearer your voice should be.
    * Stop before the baby is tired. The child should always want more.
    * The book suggests starting with five different Categories with ten Bits cards in each. Each Category should be shown three times before the day ends. As you are more comfortable, you can add more Categories into each (each is shown for 10 seconds 3 times daily).
    * After 10 days of showing the cards, start retiring one card and adding a new one on daily basis. When you run out of Bit cards in your Category, retire the entire Category and introduce a new one. So, in the end, the child sees every card at least 30 times.

    Now about the facts that you have on the back, or the Programs of Intelligence (how they are called in a book). The book recommends showing kids just bits for a while, and after they’ve seen about 100 of them, introducing facts.

    * Complexity of facts is increasing on the fact, so that you always start with easier facts.
    * One session should consist of no more then five programs (one fact for each of five bits). Keep sessions brief, so it might be necessary to reduce a number of cards in each set that you show.
    * The book recommends starting with about 5 different Categories, again 3 times in a day. Expand as your child’s interest permits.
    * Each Program lives for 5 days, then you proceed to the next fact (program). You can retire them more quickly, if your child learns it much faster. Once you run out of Programs, retire Category and pick a new one up.

    I believe I saw someplace in a book that once you retire the bit card, and since you don’t have anything to add about it, you retire it forever. Again, unless you find more facts.

    Well, my personal approach is a little different. I don’t state the same fact for 5 days in a row. Having 10 facts on the card, saying the same thing for 5 days, means the card is staying with me for 50 days! At least! And since we usually skip watching cards on weekends, every set of cards is bound to stay with us for months. Honestly, I can’t look at the same two spotted lady-bird beetle for two months. I’d hate it by the end. Besides, such facts as the length of wings and the specific weight of the animal, or hight of the building, or it’s latin name… boring fact – I can’t repeat it 3 times a day for 5 days. I don’t have enough patience. So I say the fact just for one day. May be two, if it is fun! Having 10 facts, you are right, I am done with a set in about 2 weeks of time.

    Well, that’s where I cheat. I don’t retire it forever. I make some wholes in it and combine the cards into a book (more details on creating books here: How do I use these materials: making books), dump it on a shelf. Every day we reread some of the old “books-sets” – about 2-3 per day. My kid knows most of them by heart, loves them. So, why not? I don’t see why we can reread Curious George or Cat in a Hat daily, but we can’t our “Internal Organs”, “Earth Structure”, “Paintings by Picasso”, and some personal ones that I make, such as “Our Summer Vacation”. We reread both. Honestly, I don’t see, that my child recollects any of the old bits, that he has seen as a baby. I am fine with that. We’ll revisit them, check out some facts… and I hope if he ever needs this information in the future, it is going to be easy to “relearn” it again, since it is not new! His brain is already accustomed to learning, and accustomed to this type of information!

    Enjoy and feel free to come back with questions and suggestions of your own!

  5. I’m wondering if anyone can tell me the 10 divisions Doman recommends in his book? I’m making bits but want to cover all the areas he suggests. (ex. Art, music, biology, general science, history, geography…). What others does he list?

  6. 10 divisions in the Encyclopedic Knowledge are: biology, history, geography, music, art, human physiology, mathematics, general science, language, literature.

  7. Sudha, Both big and small and pick the ones that suit me best. As for printing all encyclopedia bits – that’s a lot! I usually show one presentation for 1-2 weeks to my kid (3 times a day) right on the computer, and the most favorite ones we print out and make our home-made books with them. BTW, I hope you don’t mind if I transfer this discussion to “Encyclopedic Knowledge” section. As for downloading lots of files, I believe Viviane mentioned using “Download All” – free download program for loading multiple files. I haven’t tried it, but if you have experience with it or any other ideas, please share.

  8. yes all r fine,but please help me where can i find such big size pics to show my kid,if it is print out it costs around 20/- per its possible to print all encyclopedia bits.any body can suggest me something new?

  9. Hi ALenka

    I have made a few powerpoint presentations that maybe you can put on your site. Please let me know where to email those.
    PS If you could email me at I’d appreciate it. I’ve found SOOOOO much great stuff at your site that I would like to give back.

  10. What experiences do people have with using cards vs power point presentations? After reading the Doman books, I decided that the most efficient and economical way to collect and to present the information would be via computer. I brought home a nice touch screen monitor from work and started putting together presentations to demonstrate this to my wife (we have twins due in May).

    Before I got everything ready, my wife is actually now taking the Doman class at their institute. In talking to her over the phone, they seemed to be very insistent on using physical cards. The primary reasons being:
    1) You cannot see your baby’s reaction when you are looking at a computer
    2) You need to cycle through the material in an organized and quick manner
    3) You need to go through the cards randomly
    4) The dreaded computer RADIATION

    Before hearing this logic, I was of the opinion that the Doman group might be a little behind the times when it comes to utilizing technology – now I am convinced. I think any of these points that they hold as strong reasons not to use a computer are easily debunked, especially the threat of exposing your baby to radiation. Even before the death of the CRT monitor this was a weak point, but now it’s all flat screens.

    My wife’s response is that these are the experts, and we should do what they say. I am a bit more of the mind that we should do what works for us, and the computer is definitely more efficient. The program has to be adjusted for everyone’s unique needs, and as both of us are working parents, with TWINS on the way, I think efficiency is key.

    Ultimately, though, I see me collecting the majority of information on the computer and making ppt presentations, and then we will also print out some of this material as we see fit.

    Does anyone have any strong feelings or experiences that suggest not using a computer? Does your opinion vary for Reading, Math, or Bits of Knowledge?

  11. I agree with all the points that you stated pro and against power point presentations. I am against introducing computer and TV at an early age. But I am also a fan of doing everything in moderation: the golden rule. So, with both of my kids I tried showing them printed out cards first. That’s what most of the parents are doing. Keeping the cards up to date turned out to be a little hard, it was easier to prepare everything on the computer. Besides, my toddlers were rapidly losing interest. Computer seemed to solve both problems for me. I love the ease and neatness of computer based materials, I love the opportunity to reuse it for my second baby, I love the ability to print it out after we view it and use it as books. As for radiation and other negative effects, I figured that since my kids almost never watch TV and I show my presentations quickly three times a day (each sessions is about 5 minutes tops), it limits the radiation and other negative sides of the exposure. We also don’t sit close to the computer. I usually hold my baby in my arms, so his reaction is immediately apparent, even though I don’t face him. Sometimes I’d sit next to him and watch him – if the presentations do the talking. Besides, I am not leaving the baby alone with the presentation – I am there repeating the words, hugging him, jumping on my seat, so I think my reaction is no mystery to the baby as well.

    I know a lot of parents, who write the words by hand on scraps of paper, who write on dry erase boards, who just point to the ready made cards, who show it in the car, who prefer hanging it on the walls. Or show TYBTR videos. Or just to read books. I like TV as a teacher less, and I still show printed out cards every day, three times a day. It seems to me, while with this baby getting to see the presentations on the computer is more rare. My strategy – whichever loving, involved, fun method that you can find and make it work for your family – it will work.

  12. hi Alenka, can you kindly share your schedule on flashing all the cards on English, Maths, EK using Doman method?

    According to Doman, need to show cards 3 times each day for each set. Let’s say i have 2 sets of English card (to teach baby to read), 2 sets of Maths, 5 sets of EK cards. How am i going to schedule all the card in a day? Which option is better?

    1. show all cards (English Set1 &2 , Math Set1 & 2, EK Set 1,2,3) at the same time in the morning, noon and night (to made up the 3 times)


    2. show only ONE set after every 30minutes (a break), alternate all the set. e.g. English set 1, after 30min math set 1, after 30 min EK set1, after 30min English set 2, after 30min Math set 2….

    It’s really time consuming, especially for those who are working full time. Thanks for sharing!

  13. OR

    3. showing English set 1&2 three times in the morning by having a break 15min in between, then afternoon Math set 1&set 2 three times, at night focus on EK.

  14. Scheduling: again, whatever works!!! With my first one I religiously stuck to the schedule that you listed as /#1. It worked well for us. With my second one, I have the same settings, but how many times we watch – varies: sometimes I manage all three times a day, sometimes – just two, and sometimes – none! I wish I could stay more consistent, but I believe that something is better then nothing, so I do the best I can and try to keep it fun and joyous – most important parts of the learning process!

  15. Hi I am still quite confused on how to get started.

    For example, I am starting with:
    Division: biology
    Category: Fish
    and then followed by next Category: birds
    and so on.

    So do I just flash all the types of fishes (10 of them) and also finish all the categories and then all the divisions before doing the program of intelligence (which are the details to each bits of intelligence) again ?

    Or we have to incorporate all the programs of intelligence when we flash the fish ” herring”and then we read:
    1. most interesting and simple fact of herring
    2. what herring eats
    3. herring habitat information
    4. herring range information
    5. herring size information
    6. herring reproduction
    7. herring interesting feature 1
    8. herring interesting feature 2
    9. herring interesting feature 3
    10. Scientific classification