Have you seen the children on the show Child Genius memorizing a deck of 52 cards in random order? In kindergarten, you often teach the alphabet to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Here are my top 10 learning hacks and mnemonics for kids!
1. Multiplication Tricks
Multiplying 9s was my biggest struggle in third grade. Here is how to multiply 9s with your fingers!
Multiplying two-digit numbers quickly
I recently figured out how to multiply “Indian style” and since then I’ve been hooked. It is faster than traditional multiplication, and one of the simplest ways to do “mental math.”
Tackle square roots – in three seconds – with this method. It takes some practice, but once you’ve got it, you’ll never forget it!
3. Math conversions and abbreviations
From conversions to fractions; I created this Math Cheat Sheet in elementary school to help me quickly memorize different conversion rates, and basic geometry. It’s bright, vivid colors really helped my visual memory. This printable is free and comes in three different color schemes.
4. Trigonometry – the sides of the triangles
As I began trigonometry, I used to mix up the three sides of the triangles. Until I saw this image. As I think of the hypotenuse, I just imagine a giant hippopotamus laying on the triangle. The opposite side is the side opposite of the angle, and the adjacent is the other side. Image credit: Sandra Boynton
5. The Parts of Speech poem
I learned the parts of speech in elementary school, and a parts of speech poem, recited daily, was the easiest way to remember the difference between adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions! For an in-depth look at the parts of speech, check out this free Parts of Speech and Sentences printable and this free Diagramming Sentences Chart.
6. The Presidents
Very few can name all of the US Presidents. Animaniacs has the best video on the Presidents I’ve ever seen (here are the lyrics), as it isn’t just a rote memorization, and contains some fun facts about each of the Presidents, and some of the time period during their presidency. Because it is older, it ends with the Clinton’s in the White House, so you’ll have to add on a few verses for our recent presidents!
7. General history
It’s no secret I am a major history buff – and yet love fiction! I’ve never been able to memorize random dates and names. Historical movies and historical books, with characters and plots, have helped me memorize names, dates, and locations faster, easier, and I actually have fun doing it! I’ve gotten to the point where I can read a fictional novel, and pick out what was “real” or directly inspired from other’s testimony at the time, and what wasn’t. Here are 30+ ways to teach history without a textbook.
8. Notable Acrostics
North East South West
To memorize North, East, South, and West in order, one of my old elementary school teachers taught us: Never Eat Soggy Waffles.
The Great Lakes: HOMES
Huron – Ontario – Michigan – Erie – Superior
The Order of the Planets
My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto
(This was when Pluto was a planet, but it’s still a great learning hack either way.)
9. The Periodic Table
Despite not really being interested in science, I memorized the Periodic Table in a week with the “memory palace” technique – where I placed images relating to the elements all over my house. (You can read about my Periodic Table journey here.) This method is great because after going through it a few times, it’s been almost permanently ingrained in my memory. (plus I’ve learned to recite it backwards, which is fun)
Pinterest helped me memorize many of the elements and their abbreviations. As a visual learner, anything that stirs up my visual memory normally sticks in my brain. Combine modern memes and jokes, and these are unforgettable! Here are a few of my favorites. For the others, make up your own! The Internet is full of great ideas, and there are hundreds of books dedicated to learning the Periodic table.
- Potassium (K) – “K” “Well, Potassium to you to.”
- Copper (Cu) – Are you made of Copper and Tellurium? Because you’re CuTe.
- Iron (Fe) – I’m a female. Fe = Iron. Male = Man. Therefore, I am Iron Man.
- Sodium (Na) – Do you know any jokes about sodium? Na.
- Tin (Sn) – Belgian comic book hero Tintin has a dog named Snowy. (I don’t know if this was purposeful or not, but I LOVE Tintin!)
10. Morse Code
Morse code may not be educational in the traditional sense, Morse code is super fun to learn, and a great way to “secretly” communicate from a distance. Print off this Morse code chart, and practice one letter a day for a month, each day repeating the previous letters. Practice with these Morse code worksheets! Similar to Morse code, Tap code is easier to learn and fun to play with.
11. Foreign Languages
Any foreign language requires practice and hands-on work, however I’ve found free apps like Memrise make learning vocabulary easier. The app gives fun visual scenarios to help remember vocabulary.