Helpful Acronyms and Mnemonics for Remembering Things


Memory tricks to help retain what you and your kids are learning.

Acronyms – a word formed from the initial letters of other words

Mnemonics – a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.

I'm a very visual person, and it helps me tremendously to use memory devices like acronyms to help remember things. Being a homeschooler, I try to teach my children some of these same memory tricks to remember various facts. Here are just a few of these tricks that have worked for us!

1. To remember the names of the major cultures in MesoAmerica and Latin America, I think of the acronym AMI (pronounced "Amy"). "A" stands for Aztez, "M" stands for  Maya, and "I" stands for Inca. This acronym also helps me remember where each of these civilizations were located. AMI runs north to south, with the A (Aztec) in Mexico, the M (Maya) on the Yucatan Peninsula, and the I (Inca) in western South America. You can see a map illustrating their locations here.

2. To remember which is the Black Sea and which is the Caspian Sea, I just remember "B.C." when I look at the map. The Black Sea is the one on the left (west) and the Caspian is on the right (east).

3. To help me remember the names of the provinces of Canada that border the United States (most of them at least), I use the acronym BASMOQ (pronounced "Baz • Mock"). The acronym lists the provinces from west to east in order: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. The acronym doesn't include all the provinces in Canada, but it does help me remember a good number of them. My kids have also picked up on this acronym and use it often themselves.

4. To remember the order in which the great Greek philosophers lived, I recall the acronym SPA — Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

5. To help my piano students remember the order in which sharps appear in a key signature (FCGDAEB), I use the mnemonic "Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Bananas." The flats simply appear in the opposite order, BEADGCF, so I teach them to think of the word BEAD and then Great Cat Food (GCF).

6. To remember the Great Lakes, I use the acronym SHO ME ("Show Me"). As you can see, not only does this help to remember the names of the lakes, it also helps to recall the location of the lakes.

So yes, I'm obviously a geek, and I freely admit it. My memory tricks of acronyms and mnemonics are only a tip of the ice berg for increasing your childs retension. I'm sure a few of you out there do the same kinds of things to help your memory. So do you have any memory tricks you'd like to share? I'd love to hear about them! Leave a comment and let me know.

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  1. says

    Only ones I can think of, besides some you used already…my kids learned for piano:
    Every Good Bird Does Fly (Treble..or TOP/birds fly notes)…and Great Big Dogs Fight Animals (Bass…or dog are on the ground/bottom notes).

    And order of the Planets- My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.

    And Roy G BIV- Rainbow colors…and don't forget the Song for Do Ra Me Fa So La Te Do!!!

    Tracy’s last blog post..MAN-ual Labor


  2. American Texan says

    If you like memory tricks, check out a book called "Yo, Millard Fillmore!" (available on Amazon). It has cartoons and sayings that help you memorize the Presidents in order.
    While I was searching for that book, I found another by the same authors called "Yo, Sacramento!" which is for the state capitals. I haven't read this one, but I own and enjoy the first one.
    Also, have you ever heard of Walk Thru the New Testament and Walk Thru the Old Testament? I learned it in one of my college classes and it's a great way to keep track of the order of events in the Bible and simple enough that your kids should be able to learn it.


  3. Niki says

    Wo. This is helpful. I use every good bird does fly for treble, but instead of great big dogs fight animals, i use Grizzly Bears Don't Fool Around.


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