Mnemonics

A mnemonic device is a mind, memory and/or learning aid. They can come in the form of a song, rhyme, acronym, image, phrase, or sentence. Using this type of device can help children study and remember keys to subjects like Math, English, History and more.


Most of us can remember what year Columbus sailed the ocean blue thanks to a rhyme we heard about it. And most of us have created acronyms or a sentence based on letters to help us remember things like the planets, compass directions or order of operations in a math equation.


Compass: Never, Eat, Sour, Watermelon - Maggie

UCLA - for Uphill Curb Left Always (parking on a hill) - Andrea

Great Lakes - HOMES - Bronwyn

Taxonomy - King Phillip Comes Over For Good Spaghetti - Susan



There are many mnemonic devices that are widely used, but you can also create your own, just to help trigger your own memory.


I remember when my son was learning about the solar system and he wanted to make sure he could remember the planets in the correct order from the sun. So he created the sentence My Very Excited Mom Just Started Using New Pillows. Each word in the sentence starts with the first letter of each planet (this was a time when Pluto was still considered a planet!)


Allowing children to create there own memory reminders is a great way to encourage them to develop the skills that will help them learn best. I struggled a lot with math and so I used to tell myself little stories about different concepts. It was easier for me to remember the story than the concept. For example, an isosceles triangle has one isolated side - so the triangle with two equal sides and one different side I would remember was an isosceles triangle.




Times Tales


One of the best things I discovered, for myself anyway, was a product called Times Tales. These are stories that use numbers as characters and the story gives you the answer to the multiplication question using those two numbers.


For example, the number eight character is a snowman (for obvious reasons). The story goes that Mr. and Mrs. Snowman eat six snow cones three times a day. Therefore 8 x 8 = 63.


For me this was huge as memorizing the times tables was a struggle, which led to confusion and time constraint for any math beyond that. By having these stories, and snowmen running around in my head lol, I was able to get a better grasp of multiplication.


And now, they have the stories as videos, which can make it even easier for kids to grasp.




Creating your own mnemonic device


First figure out what fact or concept you need to remember, then try out different ways to help you remember it until one really sticks. Think about creating a poem, song, acronym, phrase or even a picture. It can be something simple or even a story. What is important is that you create it, so you will remember it, and it will help you trigger the concept you are trying to connect with.


Maybe you are learning a different language and confuse some of the words.

In French for example the words droite and gauche mean left and right - but which is which? Well, droite has an r in it which means it is right.


Similarly the word stalactite has a c so they come down from the ceiling whereas stalagmite has a g so they come up from the ground.


Creating little memory triggers is a great study skill but can also help with quicker recollect in every day life.





Mnemonics in every day life


You might not even realize that you are using some mnemonic devices in your everyday life. But have you ever thought to yourself lefty loosey and righty tighty when turning a screwdriver? Do you think i before e except after c when you are writing something down? Do you ever sing the ABC song when trying to figure out what letter comes after t?


Many professions will include mnemonic devices in their teachings. The medical profession for example has a lot of different memory triggers to help with assessment, treatment and procedures.


Music teachers will teach note position on the scale with the FACE, Every Good Boy Does Fine and All Cows Eat Grass.


Some companies will post signs to help with conflict resolution (CATCH method) or building resilience in the workplace (RESPOND)


Keep an eye out for posters and other examples of mnemonics as you go through your day. You may be surprised how many you find! And, if you are struggling to remember something specific, think up a mnemonic device you can use to help make it easier for you to remember it.



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