If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students learned about some basic practices to help students with mnemonics and memory. Students practiced how to associate things that are important to remember and students worked in groups creating posters to help improve memory skills.
Getting Ready for the Conversation
Learning some basic skills for remembering facts or ideas is useful-even in an age of smartphones.
Conversation Starters and Practice at Home
The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.
Explain their group’s poster for memory skills. Why did your group choose to include what you did on your poster?
What are some things that you sometimes have trouble remembering? What can we do to help you remember this thing (or these things)?
What are some situations where you may have to remember something important where you would not be able to look something up on a mobile device? Describe why. [Possible situations could be while driving or operating machinery.]
School to Home Resources on Mnemonics
- Mnemonics Examples slide/handout
- Poster board
- Art supplies as needed
1. Post: “Mnemonic is a fancy word for memory tool.” Ask students to define what they think that statement means. What is a memory tool? Why do we need memory tools?
2. Explain that mnemonics are ways of remembering information that is usually challenging to remember. Mnemonics are often simple rhymes or sayings or sentences that organize difficult or bulky information so our brains can hold onto it easily.
3. Provide students with examples of mnemonics (use the slide/handout provided on the next page).
4. Ask students to identify the examples of acrostics (using the first letters), rhymes, images, and/ or clever sayings. Which ones put things in order? Which ones give you a good picture of the information? Why are the mnemonics helpful?
5. Ask students to think of the different kinds of lists of information or processes they are expected to remember in their classes or during different activities. Use the following list to help brainstorm:
- art (the color wheel, the elements of art, etc.)
- music (notes on the treble clef staff, genres of music, etc.)
- dance (styles of dance, steps of simple dances, etc.)
- PE (steps in a certain exercise, names of positions on certain sports teams, etc.)
- science (colors in a rainbow, classifications, etc.)
- math (order of operations, rules for processes, etc.)
- English (spelling rules, grammar rules, etc.)
- history (dates, historical figures, etc.)
- geography (continents, regions, etc.).
- general school rules/processes (behavior expectations, playground rules, etc.)
6. Give students 10 minutes to discuss the mnemonics they already know, and then have them work in pairs or trios to create an original mnemonic for information from one of the lists. When they create an original mnemonic, give them some helpful tips:
- Use positive, happy images — our brains remember positive things better than negative things.
- Use any or all senses: it can contain smells, sounds, tastes, touches, movement, and feelings in addition to things you can see.
- Use humor if possible — our brains LOVE funny stuff!
7. Tell each group they are going to select one mnemonic and create a poster/visual aid for the classroom to help everyone remember the information. Their posters should have:
- letters large enough for people to see from anywhere in the classroom
- neatly written / drawn information
- appropriate drawings decorations to help illustrate the information
8. Give students ample time to create their posters, noting that this project may take more than one session.
When posters are complete, have groups present their work and post around the classroom. If the poster applies to another discipline, create the opportunity for the students to share with the appropriate faculty/ staff member.
Close with a discussion: How do mnemonics help us remember information?