A mnemonic is a tool that helps us remember certain facts or large amounts of information. They can come in the form of a song, rhyme, acronym, image, phrase, or sentence. Mnemonics help us remember facts and are particularly useful when the order of things is important. Below, we’ll explore several examples of mnemonics that’ll help us remember everything from tricky spelling words to U.S. presidents.
Are you a fan of spelling bees? Who doesn’t love a bright blue ribbon hanging proudly by their desk? If you have some tricky words coming up on next week’s spelling bee or spelling test, see if you can come up with any spelling mnemonics. All you have to do is construct a phrase or sentence where the first letter of every word represents the difficult spelling word. Take a look:
- ARITHMETIC: A rat in the house may eat the ice cream.
- BECAUSE: Big elephants can always understand small elephants.
- DOES: Daddy only eats sandwiches.
- FRIEND: Fred rushed in eating nine doughnuts.
- GEOGRAPHY: George's elderly old grandfather rode a pig home yesterday.
- LAUGH: Laughing aunts under green hats
- NECESSARY: Not every cat eats sardines. Some are really yummy.
- OUGHT: Only unique goats have this.
- RHYTHM: Rhythm helps your two hips move.
- SAID: Snakes and insects dance.
- TOMORROW: Trails of my old red rose over window.
In science, species are organized under a number of categories. Think of them like Russian nesting dolls. The order, from largest to most specific, is as follows:
To help students remember the order of taxonomy, the following sentence is often used:
Kids prefer cheese over fried green spinach.
The first letter of each word in the sentence represents the category. So, “kids” represents “kingdom,” “prefer” represents “phylum,” “cheese” represents “class,” and so on. Let’s look at a few more examples.
When reading music, the notes on the staff (the lines) with a treble clef are: E, G, B, D, F. To help new students of music remember the order of the notes, the following sentence can be memorized:
Every good boy deserves fun.
As for the spaces on the same staff, they read as follows: F, A, C, E. To remember that order, there’s this wonderful mnemonic device:
Furry animals cook excellently.
Next, we have the lines on the staff with a bass clef, as read from the bottom: G, B, D, F, A. For this, musical students often use this line:
Good boys do fine, always.
Let’s return to science. Do you know the order of the planets (from closest to furthest from the sun)? They are:
To help you remember the order, try this:
My very excited mother just served us nine pies.
Since Pluto has been removed from planet status, there’s a new mnemonic device in town that doesn’t include it:
My very educated mother just served us noodles.
Let’s move onto math. When working out equations, there’s an order of operations to follow:
To remember this order, try:
PEMDAS: Please excuse my dear aunt Sally.
Mnemonics are also useful when studying geography. To remember the order of the Great Lakes from west to east, try:
Super Man helps every one.
Technically, “Superman” and “everyone” should be one word each. But, mnemonics enjoy a little bit of wiggle room if the shoe fits. This device will help you remember the order of the lakes:
Just don’t forget to put the proper noun “Lake” before each title, as in “Lake Superior,” “Lake Michigan,” and so on.
How about a little history? If you have a quiz coming up on the order of the presidents, you can easily remember the first eight with this sentence:
Will a jolly man make a jolly visitor?
Each letter stands for the last name of each president, in order from the first:
- George Washington
- John Quincy Adams
- Thomas Jefferson
- James Madison
- James Monroe
- John Quincy Adams
- Andrew Jackson
- Martin Van Buren
The United States Constitution has seven articles, or sections, which detail how the government works. They are:
- Article I - The Legislative Branch
- Article II - The Executive Branch
- Article III - The Judicial Branch
- Article IV - The States
- Article V - Amendment
- Article VI - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
- Article VII - Ratification
To remember each article, students often refer to this mnemonic:
Large elephants jump slowly and die rapidly.
We saved the best for last. This one’s really fun. Below, you’ll find a sentence containing eight words. Each word stands for the numerals in pi. They are: 3.1415927. How does each word represent each numeral? Well, the number of letters in each word equals each numeral. Here’s the sentence:
May I have a large container of coffee?
You’ll notice that:
- “May” has three (3) letters.
- “I” has one (1).
- “Have” has four (4).
- “A” has one (1).
- “Large” has five (5).
- “Container” has nine (9).
- “Of” has two (2).
- And “coffee” plus the question mark has seven (7).
Who said you couldn’t have fun with math?
Acronyms are short words formed by a series of letters. Typically, they’re the first letter of each word in a phrase. If you think it seems like they’d work hand in hand with mnemonics, you’re right! Take a look at this list of list of mnemonics containing acronyms.
The spectrum of colors are as follows:
They can be remembered using this acronym:
ROY G. BIV
The essential amino acids are as follows:
To remember them, try to recall this fictional fellow:
Pvt. Tim Hall
Pvt. is the abbreviation for “Private,” a class of soldier within the United States military.
If you sprain your ankle (or any other body part), there’s a specific order for treating the injury. It is:
- Rest the injured area.
- Ice the sprain.
- Compress with a wrap or bandage.
- Elevate the injured area.
When the time comes, don’t panic. Just remember the following mnemonic:
Have you studied coordinating conjunctions yet? They’re the most popular form of conjunctions. They join ideas together with words like:
To remember these words, think of a crowd of boys at a rock concert, otherwise known as:
Remember the fun we had with the Great Lakes above? Super Man helps every one? Well, if the order doesn’t matter and you just want to remember the names, here’s an acronym for you:
You can probably guess the names this time around:
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? Sometimes it’s the melody that sticks; sometimes it’s the lyrics. There are some useful rhyming mnemonics that’ll help you remember essential life facts.
If you’ve ever tried to remember which months have 30 days and which have 31 days, there’s a helpful rhyming mnemonic for that:
Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine each leap year
History lessons are full of important dates to remember. When it’s time to study Christopher Columbus’ explorations, try this useful mnemonic:
In fourteen hundred ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
Ah, grammar rules. Sometimes, all you can say about the rules of the English language are “because my teacher said so.” When it comes to spelling and vowels, the best way to remember the tricky “I” and “E” duo is to say this:
I before E except after C
Or when sounding like A
As in neighbor and weigh
If you enjoy meteorology, you might consider some of these generally accepted truths:
Red sky at night
Red sky in the morning
A red sky means there’s dust in the air, which shows high pressure, meaning good weather is coming. At dawn, a red sky may also mean dust, indicating a storm is moving in from the west. Red may also mean humidity, which may foretell rain.
Rainbow in the morning
Travelers take warning
Rainbow at night
A rainbow in the morning would be visible in the west, so a storm is approaching. A rainbow in the evening means the storm has already passed from west to east.
Aren’t mnemonics fun? They can help you remember so many things in life. Whether it’s history, math, science, spelling, or generally accepted truths about life, a good mnemonic device can help you remember absolutely anything under the sun.
If you’d like to make the most out of mnemonics when studying for spekking, check out these Study Habits for Spelling Tests. They’ll be sure to help you ace the next bee or quiz.