Have you seen it in the night time sky – the bright, bright glow of Venus? I look at it and can’t help but rattle off to myself, “My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.” Ask a first grader about the significance of that sentence, and he or she will show off a little astronomy prowess, “Mercy, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.” The ordering of the planets is just one of the many mnemonics that helps learners – young and old alike – memorize large pieces of information.
Mnemonics, as I’ve shared before, is a fun way to learn and remember by using rhymes, acronyms, music or silly sayings. Especially when you have to recall on cue, such as in a quiz or test, mnemonics help jog the memory rather quickly and accurately. What I love about this memorization method is that the learner uses his own imagination to write a memory device in his mind. I will always remember the capitol of Alabama as Montgomery, because it’s a bewitching state. (Elizabeth Montgomery starred in the television show “Bewitched”.)
Whether preparing for a second grade science test or participating in a charity trivia night, a person should know ROYGBIV. That’s the order of the colors of the rainbow: Red – Orange – Yellow – Green – Blue – Indigo - Violet. I learned this mnemonic from my then-8 year old daughter.
With mid-terms around the corner and finals just several weeks later, these helpful associations can give your student of any age the edge to perform his or her best.
The Learning Center Exchange offers these tips:
The order of math operations: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (Parenthesis – Exponents – Multiplication – Division – Addition – Subtraction).
Use this sentence recommended by Breakthrough Learning for remembering the Roman Numerals: I Value X-rays. Lucy Can’t Drink Milk. (I is 1, V is 5, X is 10, L is 50, C is 100, D is 500 and M is 1000). That’s helpful when the credits roll by after a movie and you want to determine when it was produced.
When studying the globe and you confuse longitude from latitude: Longitude – is Long and it has an “N.”
For the student of biology, here is a Taxonomy mnemonic which ranks organisms: – Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach (Kingdom - Phylum - Class - Order – Family - Genus -Species).
And, for the history student, remember the first eight presidents by reciting the question presented by Your Dictionary, Will a Jolly Man Make a Jolly Visitor? (George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren).
With just one month until Pi Day (March 14), you’ll want to remember this question to remember this mathematical constant, which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter: May I have a large container of coffee? The number of letters in each word represents the value of Pi – 3.1415927 (including the question mark with the final word).
When studying the metrics system, remember that King Henry Doesn’t Usually Drink Chocolate Milk (Kilo – Hecto – Deka – Unit – Deci – Centi – Milli)
For an upcoming English paper, remember FANBOYS when you need a coordinating conjunction: For – And – Nor – But – Or – Yet – So.
If you have to spell RHYTHM, just remember: Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move.
And for geography – the cardinal directions are: Never Eat Shredded Wheat (North – East – South – West).
Or, if your student is studying Central America and needs to memorize the countries from north to south, Breakthrough Learning recommends: My Big Gray Elephant Has No CRedit Problems – Mexico – Belize – Guatemala – El Salvador – Honduras – Nicaragua – Costa Rica – Panama.
I owe my knack of mnemonics from my second grade piano teacher, Miss LaBerge, who taught: Every Good Boy Does Fine Always and All Cows Eat Grass. The first letter of each word represents either the treble or bass clef notes.
At about the same time, I learned “i” before “e” except after “c.” It’s a device I still use today.
Each of us learns in our own way, and mnemonics helps trigger those bits of information when called upon to do so. Ask your student to write what he or she needs to memorize, then try taking the first letter of each word to make a sentence. Or, to remember how to spell a word, make up a sentence using each letter. No matter how silly the technique, your child can train his or her brain to remember and it will be a skill that travels with him or her all through school.
Pamela Henderson is the director of development and communications at Dunebrook. To learn more about parenting and support programs at Dunebrook, call (800) 897-0007. Email Pam with parenting questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.