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Chatboard Poll: What's Your Favorite Mnemonic?
Teachers.Net asked readers: We all remember memory tricks, rhymes and expressions taught to us to help remember grammar rules, spelling, order in a series, and so forth. For example, I will always remember a teacher stating "Emma the dilemma" to help drill in the spelling for this small but elusive word. Which learning mnemonics stand out in your mind, and which do you use in your classroom today?

for order of operations:
the word PEMDAS or

Please (parentheses)
Excuse (exponents)
My (multiplication)
Dear (division) (x and ų in order from left to right) Aunt (addition)
Sally (subtraction) (+ and - in order from left to right)

For the solar system:
My (Mercury) * to remember Mercury is first look at the first and last letters M__y=my
Very (Venus)
Educated (Earth)
Mother (Mars)
Just (Jupiter)
Served (Saturn)
Us (Uranus)
Nine (Neptune)
Pizzas (Pluto)

(From Mim's example for the solar system) I substitute excellent for educated and pickles for pizzas.

My other one is for the division algorithm:
Does (divide)
McDonald's (multiply)
Serve (subtract)
Cheese- (compare)
Burgers (bring down)

Barb E. / MI:
The Great Lakes = HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)

lines on the music staff = Every Good Boy Does Fine (or Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge) - EGBDF

In my workshops when teaching about memory and the use of mnemonics, I give the example of "righty tighty, lefty loosy" as a device for remembering which way to tighten or loosen a light globe, screw or anything that else that turns. I know it is a good one because after a few months the ONLY thing participants remember from that workshop is the mnemonic.
They remember nothing about memory itself but say the mnemonic had changed their lives. The power of such devices!

The ones I still use in my own life which I learned in school are the "i before e" and the "30 days hath September" rules.
With these devices, I don't need to memorize all the different applications. I had not heard your "Emma the dilemma" trick before but will remember it. I am sick of looking up "dilemma" in the dictionary. I'm glad to know, however, that the spelling has given others trouble. Do you happen to have a trick for spelling "disseminate" which I had to look up, yet again, in posting this message?

GEOGRAPHY -- George Elliots oldest grandfather rode a pig home yesterday! I learned that in elementary school.. almost 40 years ago.. and STILL replay it when I write the word geography! :)))

Together, to-get-her

In music the bass clef: All Cows Eat Grass
The lines are: Good Boys Do Fine Always

for spelling assistance: friends to the END, the principal is your PAL. I made my students simply memorize 2 Cs, 2Ms for accommodate.
"lay" and "lie", to pLAce something is to lay it somewhere(remember that place contains the word lay, well, sort of)

P.S. I replaced the battery in my car today & said "lefty loosey, righty tighty" - I'm 32 and have been using that one since I was about 6 years old!!!

separate: See Pa Rate

Names of Machines:

I like playing soccer with William.

lnclined plane
Wheel and axle

I teach science so I use these:

the order of the colors in the spectrum
red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet


the order of the organization of life King (kingdom)
Phillip (phylum)
Came (class)
Over (order)
For (family)
Good (genus)
Supper (species)

I challenge my students to create their own mnemonic devices. Some of my favorites they've discovered have to do with memorizing the fifty states. Kentucky looks like a leg of fried chicken. M 'n M for the first three Northeastern states Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Minnesota looks like a crushed "soda" can... They go on and on.

Though a few students prefer to just read and memorize, most fifth and sixth graders LOVE mnemonics and enjoy the challenge of finding one that the rest of the class embraces. At the start of the year, I teach the concept of memory tricks, but soon it becomes second nature and they are always volunteering their new discoveries. The states are pretty easy, they have more trouble with famous explorers. Sometimes the mnemonic they invent is more complicated than the fact ( Pizarro prefers pizza to lima beans: He founded Lima, Peru) (De Soto explored the Southeast all the way to the Mississippi: He *sipped* a *soda*) I say use whatever works.

In music the spaces on the treble clef spell FACE.

Connect-i-cut spells Connecticut (learned that one way back in grade school and it's served me well).

A rat in the house may eat the ice cream spells arithmetic. (Learned that from fourth grade students eons ago.

well, I of course use the planet one....My very extravagant mother....but I'm sure everyone has heard that....I have one that I heard somewhere for the order of the planets that I've been chicken to use...I don't like parent complaints, but if you promise not to complain I'll tell you.....Mother vomits every morning just so Uncle Ned pukes.

I also use the song America the Beautiful and change the words to state of being and helping words..I talked to a sixth grader last year and she still remembered it from 4th.
I'll have to think of others that I use....hmmm

Righty Tighty,Lefty loosey(to turn handles) - It's not for academics, but it sure has helped lots of time in life!

Science... for the 7 Levels of Classification

Kim Kingdom
Put Phylum
Cheese Class
On Order
Frank's Family
Green Genus
Shoes Species

For Geography: "George Elliot's old granny rode a pony home yesterday."

And in addition: spaces in treble clef: spells FACE

lines in bass clef: Good Boys Do Fine Always

spaces in bass clef: All Cows Eat Grass (or all cars eat gas)

& the order of the sharps (one of my ele. piano students made this up): Fat Cat Garfield Digs And Eats Bones (I still say that one every time I have to write the order of the sharps.)

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain to remember the colours of the rainbow. This is a good one. Learning a lot. Also, to spell necessary is one coffee and 2 sugars.

For map directions, start at top & go clockwise as you say "Never Eat Slimy Worms" (or "Soggy Waffles")

I dont really use any but those I remember are: (starting with the most impressive)

Pat Smith Called Me A Zulu So I left Him Crawling Midst Sticky Glue i.e. Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Aluminium, Zinc, and it ends in Silver, Gold ..that is for the electro-chemical series but the pity of it is that I cannot remember all the elements!

Every Good Boy Deserves Favours for music...

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet - the colours of the visible spectrum (red, orange and purple are the colours of the rectum writen by one hapless - or hopeless - student)

spelling because (I use this with primary grades)



Tomorrow.... Tom OR row
separate.... *a rat* is in there

"i" before "e" except after "c"
The 9's multipication table. After 9x5 , answers flip.

Lynn (Pogo/MS):
abcdefg,hijklmnop, qrs, tuv,wx, y and z, now you've heard my abc's tell me what you think of me!!!

I love to teach about the "Cave Habitat" to my second graders. We learn to distinguish stalactites from stalagmites by two very important letters. Stalactites has a "c" for ceiling, and helps us remember that those are the formations that hang down from the ceiling. Stalagmites has a "g" for ground, and helps us remember that those formations rise up from the ground in the cave.

Lynn (Pogo/MS):
Mississippi: Mi crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, hump back, hump back, i.

Holly Robinson:
To help my students distinguish between there or their, I tell them the following:

It's either HERE or THERE- here is over there, and is in there.
They'll be an heir when they inherit THEIR fortune.

To determine whether to use HERE or HEAR:

It's either HERE or THERE - here is over there, and in there.
If you can hEAR it, you'll need your EAR.

Lynn (Pogo/MS):
egbdf, egbdf, these are the notes of the treble clef. Face, face, it's as easy as can be-e.

Two for science - not sure if anyone has posted these.

First, for the process of oxidation and reduction: LEO the lion says GER (or simply, LEO says GER).
LEO - Losing Electrons is Oxidation
GER - Gaining Electrons is Reduction

The second is for remembering the elements in the human body: "See Hopkin's Cafe, its mighty good, but take it with a grain of salt". You write it this way: C HOPKINS CaFe Mg NaCl
C = carbon
H = hydrogen
P = phosphorus
K = potassium
I = iodine
N = nitrogen
S = sulfer
Ca = calcium
Fe = iron
Mg = magnesium
Na = salt
Cl = chlorine

Granted, you have to remember the Mg (mighty good) and that NaCl is the grain of salt, but this one has stuck with me since the eighth grade (thanks, Mr. Marafino!) and that was "a few" years ago...

Sin=Opposite angle over hypotenuse
Cosin=Adjacent angle over hypotenuse
Tangent=Opposite angle over adjacent angle

Directions, clockwise:
Never - North
Eat - East
Soggy - South
Waffles - West

6 * 8 fell on a plate, when I helped it up, it was 48.

StationEry (the paper) has an e before the r, because you write letters on it and letters only has Es in it.

For two-digit times two-digit numbers,
M - Multiply
O - Write the zero
M - Multiply
A - Add

Shelli/HS Math:
From Full House (the TV show): double the c, double the s, you will always have success

From my husband: Your left hand when held in front of you makes an L with the thumb and index finger

From my mom: Chihuahua is spelled chi-hua-hua (I think this is one you have to hear to understand)

From my HS Math teacher: Chief SOH-CAH-TOA for the trig identities of Sin=Opp/Hyp; Cos=Adj/Hyp; Tan=Opp/Adj / Another trig trick using the coordinate plane in order of the quadrants: A Smart Trig Class (In Q1, A (for all) are positive, in Q2, S(for sine) is positive, in Q3, T(for tangent) is positive, and in Q4, C(for cosine) is positive.

From another HS math teacher: Commutative Property: Commuting distance is the same from work to home as it is from home to work, with the CP, a+b = b+a / Associative Property: To associate with someone is to group up with them as friends, the AP is a "group" of friends a+(b+c) = (a+b)+c / Distributive Property: To distribute a paper is to give it to everyone.
The DP, "gives" whatever is outside the parantheses to everything inside. A (b+c) = ab + ac

From yet another math teacher: Measures of Central Tendency: Mode is MOST (mo/mo); Median is MIDDLE (median of the road is in the middle); Mean is AVERAGE (never learned one for that *grin*)

This is tacky and it isn't my favorite, but it works as a last resort with boys who just can't seem to remember which way to make the letter "p". I think it is because they love bathroom humor. *Note- this only works when the child has mastered left to right in his writing.

"You stand before you pee" (in the bowl)

As in make the stick (stand) before the bowl (round stroke)when you make p(ee)

I know it is tacky, but I teach special ed and by the time they get to me, teachers have tried almost everything else. I'm just happy it works :)

To remember the order of the planets from the sun, My Very Eager Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas; to remember "desert" from "dessert" which would you rather have "more" of--the desert or dessert? Dessert has "more" S's! To remember Bactrian camels from Dromedary camels: B has two "humps"--so do Bactrian camels. D has one "hump"--so do Dromedary camels! We love those mnemonic devices in my crazy second grade classroom!!! It's fun when a student comes up with one!

My first graders have a hard time remembering which 'their/there' to use. I tell them the one with the letter "I" is the one to use when writing about people.

I still use the one my high school Algebra/Trig. teacher taught me: "Oscar Had A Heap of Apples" the first letter in each word represents the folowing trigonometric functions:



Rhonda Jackson:
I learned that there's

"a rat" in separate. I, along with others, like to spell it - seperate. But there's a rat in it.

I also taught the order of the planets by using the first letter of each one in this sentence.

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas (or Pies) Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto

These are just a couple. If I can remember more, I'll be back later.

Becky Thompson:
Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally - for remembering order of operations.

Science... another for the 7 Levels of Classification

Kings Kingdom
Play Phylum
Chess Class
On Order
Fine Family
Green Genus
Silk Species

Stalac'tites' stick tight to the ceiling -- stala'g'mites grow up from the ground.

There is 'a rat' in separate.

Strawberry shortcake is what I want for dessert. (Double S)

(Arithmetic: A Rat In The House Might Eat The Ice Cream

Even though the word ARITHMETIC is outdated, I still remember a mnemonic that a friend who went to Catholic school taught me when I was in second grade: A Rat In Tom's House Might Eat Tom's Ice Cream

When I taught fifth grade, my students and I came up with one to memorize the five classes of vertebrates.

BARFM! : Birds, Animals, Reptiles, Fish, Mammals

It sounds gross, but that's why fifth graders love it!

because: big elephants can always understand small elephants

To remember the planets in order from the sun.
My Mercury
Very Venus
Excellent Earth
Mother Mars
Just Jupiter
Sent Saturn
Us Uranus
Nine Neptune
Pizzas Pluto

To screw and unscrew, or tighten handles, etc Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

For Order of Operations in Math
My Multiplication
Dear Division
Aunt Addition
Sally Subtraction

I always tell my kids when they confuse which here/hear to use that you "hear with your ear" and for there/their/they're I tell them "from here to there."

Diane Zueck:
To remember the difference in desert and dessert just remember that dessert has two s's and so does strawberry shortcake.

Remembering the Planets: My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

I use this with my students and then challenge them to create their own. Works like a charm!

Roy G. Biv is another onefor the colors of the rainbow

The planets:
My Very elderly mother just smashed up near Pittsburgh.
I learned this in 1st grade and have never forgotten it.

This is helpful for kids who have trouble spelling the word arithmetic:
take the first letter of each word of this saying to spell arithmetic:

Debbie Bellamy:
To teach the order of operations in math: "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally"

(parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction)

independent = The first vowel is an "i," the rest are all Es. EEEZEE

Another for because: Boys Eat Candy Apples Underneath Squashed Elephants

For b reversals,....children that are right handed give themselves a 'thumbs up' with their left hand ('cus the pencil is in their right hand)and then "check the /b/" . Your left hand (in the thumbs up position, palm facing in) shows the stick (thumb) first with the circle (fist) attached on the right side.
For left handed students, they "check their /d/".

"There is no "A" in they"

twins are two children (twins and two start with the same letters)

For the number of days in a month...make a fist and count your knuckles and dips or as we call them the "mountains" and "valleys". (You've got to be able to say the months in order first). Knuckles are mountains (31 days), and the dip is a valley (30 days).
Start (on your first knuckle) and say January, (valley) February, (knuckle) March, etc. When you hit the end of your knuckles you have to start back at the beginning knuckle again (with August).
Knuckles "mountains" are 31 days, valleys "the dip between" are 30 days,...except for February. (Which I hope they all know is 28 or 29 days) I hope this makes some sense..the kids sure get it.

My fourth graders easily answer this question:

What are the 3 things your circulatory system has to HAVe?

H (heart)
A (arteries)
V (veins)

My 7th grade english teacher taught us this one to remember the correct spelling of cemetery...all of the "e's" are buried in the cemetery. I never forgot it!!!

Division algorithm: Look with a determined face.
You draw a face sort of like this. I can't add the arrow at the bottom. You would just add an arrow that goes straight down to represent the "bring down" step. I also add an arrow below the bring down arrow that goes back to the top of the head to represent "start the process again". Finally, there are two ears with "R's" inside to represent "remainder". The bring down step is skipped when remainder is used.

. .
___ ___ Divide
. .
X Multiply
___ Subtract
(arrow) Bring down

(arrow that reaches around to top of head) Start again

Some that come to mind right off the bat are: ROY G. BIV for the colors of the rainbow.

30 days hath September, April, June and November.
All the rest have 31
Except February...I can't remember the rest.

I before E except after C
Or when sounds like an A
as in Neighbor and Weigh

Never Eat Slimy Worms (or Soggy Waffles)

To go with directions:

Once one knows North and South . . . on the crossed arrows . . .
to figure out West from East and not to have reversals of the two. Remember the word WE. West (W) is on the left and East (E) is on the right, spelling the word "WE."

When you have extended your fingers and put them together on your left hand and then pull your thumb down, you've made the letter "L." Left hand only makes the correct "L." ("L"eft)

8 X 8 fell on the floor,
When I picked it up,
It was 64!

The Color People Rhymes:

This is red.
He fell out of bed.
"Ouch" he said,
"I fell on my head."

This is yellow.
He's a funny fellow.
He likes jell-o
Can you tell-o?

This is black.
He's a jumping jack.
Follow his tracks
And then come back.

This is brown.
Dress as a clown.
He went to town
in his night gown.

This is orange.
A name for a fruit.
Do you like them?
Or Do you get a hoot?

This is purple.
Another name's violet.
When he grows up,
He'll be a pilot.

This is green.
Dressed as a queen.
Have you ever seen
A queen in green.

This is blue.
He lost his shoe.
What will he do.
Without a shoe.

This is pink.
It's Red and White
mixed in a blink . .
I think?

Number Rhymes:

Around to the left
To find my hero,
Back to the top,
I've made a zero.

Downward stroke,
My that's fun,
Now I've made the
Number one.

Half a heart
Says, "I love you"
A line.
Now I made the
Number two.

Around the tree,
Around the tree,
Now I've made the
Number three.

Down and Across
And down once more
Now I've made the
Number four

The hat,
The back,
The belly.
It's a five.
Watch out!
It might come alive.

Bend down low
To pick up sticks,
Now I've made the
Number six

Across the sky,
And down from heaven,
Now I've made the
Number seven

Make an "S"
And close the gate,
Now I've made the
Number eight

A oval
and A line,
Now I've made the
Number nine.

One egg (10)
Laid my hen
Now I've made the
Number ten.

If you take your class on a hike remember to teach them...

Leaves of three, let it be -- to identify poison ivy

Red and yella', hurts a fella; red and black, friend of Jack
-- this one is what my Florida born husband uses to identify
good snakes from coral snakes

Order of metric measure: King Hector Died By Drinking Chocolate Milk

DE Tony:
American Presidents:


George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe



John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James Polk



Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchannan
Abraham Lincoln

Believe has a "lie" in it.

BLA Math man:
Kings (kingdom)
Play (phylum)
Chess (class)
On (order)
Friday, (family)
Golf (genus)
Saturdays (species)


(A)ll (S)eniors (T)ake (C)alculus.

This simple sentence tells you which trig functions are positive in each of the 4 Quadrants of the Cartesian Coordinate plane.

Quad I : (a)ll functions are positive Quad II: Only (s)in is positive (cos and tan are negative) Quad III: Only (t)an is positive (sin and cos are negative) Quad IV: Only (c)os is positive (sin and tan are negative)

Dianne Ditmore:
"b" and "d" reversals are very common. I teach my students to make 2 "thumbs up" and join them so that the fists are together and a thumb sticks up on each side. A bed can be visualized using the left thumb as a headboard and the right as a footboard. If you look closely at the word bed you can visualize the word as a bed in the same way. Bed starts with "b" and ends with "d". When you look at the bed you made with your hands...the left side looks just like a "b" (where the bed begins) and the right side looks like a "d" (where the bed ends).

Before each spelling test I remind students to "Be sure to make your bed."

Donna music/tn:
Bass Clef- lines Good Boys Do FIght Alligators (or Giant Booster Drives Flying Astronaut) Spaces-Alligators Can Eat Girls (A Capsule Encircles Globe)

To multilply out (a+2)(a+5)
Use the FOIL system First, Outer, Inner, Last

The great lakes in order from left to right:

She Makes Him Eat Oreos

Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario

My sister taught me this and I have never forgotten it.

(Thanks to the person who posted one for cemetery)

Items to the left of the plate have EVEN letters, like the word LEFT (4). FORK (4), NAPKIN (6).
Items to the right of the plate have ODD letters, like the word RIGHT (5. KNIFE (5), SPOON (5), GLASS (5).

I remember Roy G. BIV. I think I must have learned that about 15 years ago in Junior High. Of course it stands for Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The colors of the rainbow!

Cindy Jo:
In 4th grade, I had trouble remembering how to spell dessert and desert... which one had the two ss's. My teacher said " Well, which one would you rather have two of?" Being someone who developed a sweet tooth at a very young age, that was an easy question to answer. I have never mixed up which one has two ss's s

just remembered this one.......
i use jingle bells in teaching helping verbs....
(my middle schoolers love it)

have, has, had

do, does, did

shall, will, should, and could

may, might, must,

must, can, could are the helping verbs.

How to remember Port from Starboard:

Port has four letters in it, just like the word Left!

So Port is Left, and Starboard is Right!

Music - treble clef lines & spaces
EGBDF - Every Good Boy Deserves Favor (or Fudge)
FACE - If you want to remember the space, remember FACE.

Music - bass clef lines & spaces
GBDFA - Great Big Dogs Fight Animals or Good Boys Do Fine Always
ACEG - All Cows Eat Grass or All Cars Eat Gas

A whole rest looks like a "hole" someone could fall into. A half rest looks like a "hat" someone dropped on a line.

When teaching the instruments of the orchestra, I tell students to remember, "Large, long, low." The larger, longer instrument has the lower pitches. When teaching mallet percussion or timpani, I add the word "left". The larger, longer bars/tubes/timpani play the lower pitches and are on the left.

Port and left have four letters. (That makes starboard the right side.) Port wine is red. The light on the left side of a ship or plane is red. Starboard is green.

righty tighty, lefty loosey

Desert has one S for sand. Dessert has two Sís for seconds.

ABC song

Fifty Nifty United States - song that taught me the states in alphabetical order.

The digits of the answers in the 9's multiplication table add up to nine. 2x9=18 (1+8=9) etc.

Stalactites hang from the top of a cave so they have to hang on "tight". Stalagmites rest on the cave floor and "might" reach the top if they grow large enough.

Either/or, neither/nor

Piece - Would you like a piece of PIE or CaKe? (pie c e)

As an aside, are there teachers reading this who are versed in Madaline Hunterís teachings? I attended a seminar about ten years ago that she gave with her son (Rob ?). When discussing short and long term memory, she seemed to eschew using mnemonic devices as they did not promote long term memory and as a result did not encourage learning on a higher level. Is this a fair assessment on my part, or is my long- term memory not what it should be? (lol)

You can tell that I use mnemonic devices a good bit. There is one instance where the use of a mnemonic device seems to slow down learning. When teaching students the names of the lines and spaces on the treble clef staff, I have noticed that students can recite the names of the spaces (FACE) quickly but hesitate when asked to recite the lines (EGBDF). I realized that "face" was a word they already knew. With the lines, they were saying the phrase to themselves and then extracting the first letter from each word. As the end result was not to learn the names of the lines per se, the goal was to learn to read music fluently. Now I teach EGBDF as a word (it rather sounds like eggbadif) and we practice spelling it.

I have the student reinforce this tactilely by having them touch the fingers of the left hand while reciting lines and the spaces between the fingers for spaces.


StalacTITEs hold TIGHTly to the ceiling.
StalagMITEs MIGHT reach the ceiling.

7x7=49 My students who understand football know that 7 is a common score. So 7x7 would be scores by the 49ers.

There are quite a few:

The Principal is always your pal....(helped to spell principal/principle and remember the difference

My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas (the solar system)

Please excuse my dear aunt sally (order of operations)

Meenie, neenie, eenie, meenie, oonie, neenie, itchy, coo = MNEMONIC


disney cathy k/pa:
My high school World History teacher taught us the phrase No Smoking Frank so we would remember the order of Norway, Sweden, and Finland when we had to fill in an blank World map!

I have never forgotten this or Mr. Goll!

I used to work at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland. To teach the kids the names of the Great Lakes in order of their size, we came up with Some Muskies Hatch Old Eggs.(Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario, Erie) Size of lakes are determined by their depth, not area.

Well, I'm a Golden Apple so you know this is old. I was in 4th grade and we were trying to learn how to spell Arithmetic

This is how we were taugth to remember this:

A Red Indian Thought He Might Eat Turkey In Church

You would think that it would have been easier just to learn the letters, but no---this did the trick.


To teach my kids which there/their to use: the word here is in there (location)
the word heir is in their (people)

For the spaces on the base cleff All Cows Eat Grass (ACEG)

stalactites from stalagmites: My dad's for this was...the tights come down when the mites run up.

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