Resources › For Educators Mnemonic Devices for Students Memory tools and strategies improve information retention Share Flipboard Email Print Hero Images / Getty Images For Educators Teaching Teaching Resources An Introduction to Teaching Tips & Strategies Policies & Discipline Community Involvement School Administration Technology in the Classroom Teaching Adult Learners Issues In Education Becoming A Teacher Assessments & Tests Elementary Education Secondary Education Special Education Homeschooling By Melissa Kelly Education Expert M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Florida B.A., History, University of Florida Melissa Kelly, M.Ed., is a secondary school teacher, instructional designer, and the author of "The Everything New Teacher Book: A Survival Guide for the First Year and Beyond." our editorial process Melissa Kelly Updated February 28, 2019 Mnemonic devices can help students remember important facts and principles. In defining what mnemonic devices are, Dr. Sushma R. and Dr. C. Geetha, discuss how these powerful memory tools are used in their book, Practicing Mnemonics in School Subjects: "Mnemonics are memory devices that help learners recall larger pieces of information, especially in the form of lists like characteristics, steps, stages, parts, phases, etc." Mnemonic devices commonly employ a rhyme, such as "30 days hath September, April, June, and November," so that they are recalled easily. Some use an acrostic phrase where the first letter of each word stands for another word, such as "Practically every old man plays poker regularly," to remember the geologic ages of Paleocene, Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Recent. These two techniques effectively aid memory. There are other types of mnemonic devices including: Visual systems (creating a visual representation of the information)The mnemonic link system (creating a story based on a list)The count system (associating numbers with a series of items) The major system (converting numbers into consonant sounds). Mnemonics work by associating easy-to-remember clues with complex or unfamiliar data. Though mnemonics often seem illogical and arbitrary, their nonsensical wording is what can make them memorable. Teachers should Introduce mnemonics to students when the task requires the memorization of information rather than to have a student understand a concept. For example, a mnemonic device that helps students memorize the state capitals. 01 of 06 Acronym (Name) Mnemonic PM Images/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images An acronym mnemonic forms a word from the first letters or groups of letters in a name, list or phrase. Each letter in the acronym acts as a cue. Examples: ROY G. BIV = helps students remember the order of the colors of the spectrum:Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, VioletHOMES = An easy way to remember the five Great Lakes:Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and SuperiorOIL RIG = to help chemistry students remember the difference between these two terms:Oxidation It Loses (electrons) Reduction It Gains (electrons)FANBOYS = to help students remember the seven coordinating conjunctions:For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So 02 of 06 Expressions or Acrostic Mnemonics Acrostic Mnemonic: An invented sentence where the first letter of each word is a cue to an idea you need to remember. GETTY images In an acrostic mnemonic, the first letter of each word in a sentence provides the clue that helps students recall information. Examples: Music students remember the notes on the lines of the treble clef (E, G, B, D, F) with the sentence, "Every Good Boy Does Fine." Biology students use, "King Philip cuts open five green snakes," to remember the order of taxonomy: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. Budding astronomers might proclaim, "My very earnest mother just served us nine pickles," when reciting the order of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. Placing Roman numerals gets easier with, "I Value Xylophones Like Cows Dig Milk." I =1V =5X =10L= 50C=100D=500M=1000 03 of 06 Rhyme Mnemonics Rhyme Mnemonic: rhymes are one of the simplest ways to boost memory. The end of each line ends in a similar sound, creating a singsong pattern that is easier to remember. GETTY Images A rhyme matches similar terminal sounds at the end of each line. Rhyme mnemonics are easier to remember because they can be stored by acoustic encoding in the brains. Examples: A number of days in a month: Thirty days hath September,April, June, and November;All the rest have thirty-oneExcepting February alone:Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine,Till leap year gives it twenty-nine. Spelling rule mnemonic: "I" before "e" except after "c"or when sounding like "a"in "neighbor" and "weigh" 04 of 06 Connection Mnemonics Connection Mnemonics: This allows you to remember sequences of unrelated items in the appropriate order. GETTY Images In this type of mnemonic, students connect the information they want to memorize to something they already know. Examples: The lines on a globe that run north and south are long, corresponding to LONGitude and making it easier to remember the directions of longitude and latitude. Similarly, there is an N in LONGitude and an N in North. Latitude lines must run east to west because there is no N in latitude. Civics students connect the order of the ABCs with the 27 Constitutional Amendments. This Quizlet shows the 27 Amendments with Mnemonic Aids; here are the first four: 1st Amendment; A = All RAPPSFreedom of religion, assembly, petition, press, and speech2nd Amendment; B = Bear ArmsThe right to bear arms3rd Amendment; C = Can't intrudeQuartering of Troops4th Amendment; D = Don't SearchSearch and Seizure, Search Warrants 05 of 06 Number Sequence Mnemonics Numerical Sequence Mnemonics: major memory system works by linking numbers to consonant sound groups, and then by linking these into words. GETTY Images The Major System The major system requires a great deal of front-loading, but it is one of the most powerful mnemonic methods to memorize numbers. This is used by magicians or memory technicians. The major system works by converting numbers into consonant sounds, then into words by adding vowels. Examples: 182 - d, v, n = Devon304 - m, s, r = miser400 - r, c, s = races651 - j, l, d = jailed801 - f, z, d = fazed The Count System The count system provides an easy mnemonic technique for remembering numbers. Start with an easy sentence, then count each word in the sentence. For example, the sentence, "Hitch your wagon to a star," maps to the numbers "545214. Through association, students match the numbers to the phrase. 06 of 06 Mnemonics Generators Mnemonic Dictionary: Crowdsourced mnemonics. GETTY Images Students may want to create their own mnemonics. Research suggests that successful mnemonics should have a personal meaning or importance to the learner. Students can start with these online mnemonic generators: Spacefem's Mnemonic GeneratorMnemonic Generator Students can create their own mnemonics without a digital tool. Here are some tips: Create mnemonics with pleasant images; vivid, colorful, images are easier to remember than drab ones. Mnemonics can contain sounds, smells, tastes, touch, movements, and feelings as well as pictures.Exaggerate the size of important parts of the topic or item that needs to be memorized.Create mnemonics that use humor; funny mnemonics are easier to remember than normal ones. (Rude rhymes are also difficult to forget)Everyday symbols (red traffic lights, road signs, pointing fingers, etc.) can be great visuals to use in creating mnemonics.