A-Z of Mnemonics

What are Mnemonics?

Mnemonics are one of the most highly recommended approaches for memorisation and work especially well for remembering tricky spellings and long lists.

Mnemonics comes from the Greek meaning “of memory” and is related to the Greek goddess of memory, ‘Mnemosyne’, meaning remembrance. What a difficult name to pronounce and remember!

Making up mnemonics is really good fun and personal to the learner.  You take each letter to make up a silly or funny phrase that make you laugh, which will help you remember. The infamous example that your children may already know for spelling “because” – big elephants can’t always use small exits or big elephants can always understand small elephants. Drawn with an amusing picture and the phrase on the front of a flash card and the spelling on the reverse really helps a child to ‘picture’ or visualise the spelling.

Here is a flash card example of a mnemonic for “laugh”:

If your child finds any of the following spellings tricky in My Spelling Book 1: High Frequency Words, Section 1.1 – you can think up your own mnemonics, such as the ones below, and draw a picture to make the spelling more meaningful and memorable:

up           – uppie pecks

and        – annie’s new dance

on           – oli nods

at            – annie taps

is             – indie stops

am          – annie marches

For remembering long lists, you take the first letter of each word you need to remember and make a new word or phrase. It helps if you tie the words together in a sentence. For examples, to remember the names of the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and finally Neptune, a popular mnemonic is “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos.

Then to “undo” the mnemonic, think of the sentence and the first letter of each word of the sentence, (M V E M J S U N), and then associate it with the word you are trying to remember that starts with that letter.

While the mnemonic strategy works well as a memorisation technique, it should be used in conjunction with other multisensory techniques to build the ability for structured learning of spellings.

We save using mnemonics for learning the most difficult to remember spellings, or for spellings that children continually misspell, as children find it too hard to remember mnemonics for too many spellings!

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