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.