Mnemonic Techniques with kids


#1

What are your experiences with teaching kids basic techniques like the memory palace?

My daughter (4,5yo) has seen me doing some speed card training and number memorization, and her being curious, she wanted to try too. So I went and taught her some basics. I decided to try and see if she would get the concept of a Memory Palace, and it seems like she did get it quite good. She loves to play with lego, and she made a lego city which is her most prized lego work, she even knows that place so detailed that if I would switch two things around, she notices. That lego city became her memory palace. Walking throught the memory palace became pretending to pretending to have her own lego figure walk through the lego city. We gave it 15 loci, 12 buildings, 1 park, 1 river and 1 forest, all things that were present in her lego city already, and thus in her mind.

We first started with grocery lists, I told her about five of the things we had to get, and she had to put those in her memory palace. Always one vegetable/fruit, something she liked to eat on bread, a drink, a pack of cookies, and a random item (pasta, pizza, chicken, anything). Different things every time. It was all in the order of our path through the supermarket, so all she had to remember was what the next thing was. Whenever we were in a part of the supermarket where something she had to remember was being sold, I asked her what we had to get. Whenever she remembered four of the five correct, she could pick some candy from the store as well. Later on this became 6 items, 7 items, etc. Right now she gets 10 things to remember, and usually she remembers around 7-8, occasionally 9 or 10. Her memory palace has 15 loci, and having 5 unused actually encourages her to keep trying until she gets more items to remember. I can imagine some kids might get frustrated, but she just kept on trying to do better as she liked the “game”. She is a bit disappointed when she doesn’t remember the 8 she has to remember for some candies, but she just keeps on trying.

About two weeks ago she told me she wanted to remember numbers too, “like mommy”. She was a little bit annoyed by numbers not sticking in her mind. Every time she tried to remember numbers instead of a grocery list, she forgot almost all, so she wanted to know why. That is when we started making a little system for her. I explained her how every number is not put in the memory palace as a number, but as a figure. She has quite some stuffed animals (“stuffies”), and she wanted those to become her figures. So over the course of a few days, we have been making her a system for 0 to 9, with her stuffed animals as the “persons” in her system. Every stuffed animal has a personality, her turtle is always really slow, her cat loves to cuddle, the bunny is very energetic and hops around, etc. Every day (except for friday, when we do the grocery list), she makes a random 10-digit number, using every number from 0 to 9 once. She memorizes by letting her stuffed animals do a job in the city, the personality of the stuffed animal helps her to recall it. So she ends up with a city in which the turtle is the mayor, and he is sitting at the mayor’s desk doing his job veeery slowly. Next to that is the elephant working in the school and he is just making a mess, as he is very fat and he can’t fit in between everything, so tables and chairs everywhere. Next she might have her bird flying around singing in the park. That way she fills her loci. Every day a new animal is the mayor, a new one works in the store, etc. and she loves doing that.

4 years is quite young for kids in general to start with it I think, I’d say 5-6 years would be great for the things me and my daughter do. Though every kid is different, some kids develop memory and cognitive skills faster, others learn other things faster. My daughter wanted to try, so I decided to just give it a shot, and she picked it up quite well. I do explain everything simple of course, She would have no clue what a ‘locus’ is, instead we call them simply ‘places’. I’m also encouraging her to try and do better, but not pushing her in any way. Like if she’d have only 7 items of the grocery list two weeks in a row, and she seems to get 7 again the third week, I would use a subtle trigger to get her to remember the 8th one, just so she can get her candy and a confidence boost with it. I also won’t tell her that it is time to practice, I let her decide for herself, to keep her motivated.


Boris Nikolai Konrad: How to use memory techniques to improve education
#2

My sister is 10 years old. I tried to tea h her but she didn’t want to learn. So I teached her basics like Loci and linking. I make mind map for her and stories. And it works good. For example, I am making a mind map full of stories for her geography chapter. It take me 2 hour to make a map for full chapter. And it takes one hour to explain it to her. It takes one hour to read it, herself. And it’s all part of her memory. Almost word by word. She don’t want to know the number system.


#3

I taught the method of loci to my two 7-year old girls, and they took to it like ducks to water. I had them memorize the ten stops around their bedroom, which they remembered pretty easily, and then I had them each imagine an animal at each locus. We went around the room forwards, then backwards. The first daughter I asked to recite the animal at each locus got 7 of the ten right, but the next daughter got them all correct, both forwards and backwards! I was amazed. Now the question really is, what things to teach them with the method?


#4

Very cool that you’re doing this, Mayarra.

I don’t have kids myself, and there are no young people in my family, but I’ve interviewed some people with kids. They’ve taken onto it with great ease, and more importantly, joy. It’s fun to watch young people succeed with these techniques.


#5

@Tracym
I am planning to teach my daughter to remember words when she is ready for the abstract concepts (which won’t be for a few years I guess), to help her study later in life if she wants to use it. It can be used for many things, as long as you are creative enough to think of them and apply them. After all, school only seems to care about how much you can remember, in my country at least.

@metivier
It is indeed fun to watch young kids using mnemonic technics! I think it is the one thing everyone neglects with their kids, I often hear parents encouraging their kids to move or be creative (if the parents are no smartphone addicts, that is), but I never hear anyone encouraging their kid to memorize anything, it is always “here you got a list, buy me all those from the store.”


#6

Wow, I think I need to try teaching these to my kids too (they’re 10 & 8)


(Josh Cohen) #7

Great ideas with the stuffed animals and legos. :slight_smile:

The number shape system is another technique that kids might like.


#8

The Lego town is a wonderful idea and by doing it in a way that follows your daughter’s lead, she is the one with ownership of her learning. Thanks for sharing this!

I did the number shape system with my daughter when she was 6. We started with simple things like memorizing the page number in her book instead of using a bookmark to remember where she left off.

Next we used it to memorize the first 24 digits of pi by making a memory palace with 6 locations where you walk into the house. It took about 10 minutes for her to get 100% recall forwards and backwards. I think just about any child her age would have similar results. Same for adults too.

Unlike your daughter, she wasn’t into it on her own and lost interest to continue for now.

All of the kids I taught the number shape system to have enjoyed it and it’s a great introduction because it can be explained and understood in a couple minutes.

One time when one parent noticed what we were doing they said, “What are you ding to my kid?” I said, “We are learning the first 24 digits of pi forward and backwards. Have a seat and watch what your kids can do.”

They didn’t hear the explanation or story so they were blown away by watching their kid go from location to location and recalling the numbers forward and backwards. When parents see their children do something they can’t do themselves, you get their attention.

There are obvious limitations with the number shape system, but what have you all used it to memorize?


#9

I did introduce the number-shape system to my daughter, but she didn’t like it. It was right away a no, as she doesn’t have things like donuts and swans laying around all the time :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

I’d believe some kids like to create their own system with their own favorites… I just tried to introduce memory palace and number system 0-9 to my 8yo daughter with her own stuff animals, practiced memorizing the life cycle of flowering plant (what she has been studying in class a while ago) and got some success (she only got around 70% correct the next day when I asked her). Definitely need more practice (both for her to learn the techniques and me being the teacher :P)


#11

my kid did not embrace the memory palace until he was 12-13. when he finally did, however, his academic performance was a total transformation.


#12

Not sure what it is like in your countries, but around here kids can start to go to school at the age of 4. The law says they have to go to school at age 5, but at age 4 they can start getting used to it. They learn very basic things, things like 1+1, all by playing. Basically they learn what numbers are and that words can be written (starting with things like ‘Cat’ and ‘Dog’), just learning the essence of things so they can work with it later on. Of course most of the time is for playing, and on every monday they all get to tell what they did last weekend. My daughter goes to school on monday, wednesday and friday, and she’s there for half a day (8:30 to 12:00) instead of a whole day (8:30 to 15:00). But in that half day, she did get to tell what she did last weekend.

I went to pick up my daughter from school, expecting the usual, but this time the teacher wanted to talk to me. Me being me, I started thinking “oh god, what did she do?”. Once in the classroom, she handed me a piece of paper. My own piece of paper, with on it the first threehundred digits of pi, the piece of paper that I thought I had lost somewhere. Seems my daughter had taken it, and she memorized the first 25 digits of pi. At school she wanted to show it, so she handed the paper to her teacher and told her, from memory, what the first row said (first 25 digits). She had a few digits wrong, mainly turning a few around like 95 instead of 59, but it was still enough to surprise her teacher. Teacher wanted to ask me how in the world a kid could manage to do that, and if I’ve ever thought of letting her do an IQ test…

I had a little talk with my daughter about it when we got home, as I wanted to know how she memorized 25 digits as she only has a 15 loci memory palace. Seemed she put 2 stuffed animals (her images for numbers) on each loci, something she figured out on her own. While she did turn a lot of things around because of that, I was already very amazed by the mere fact that she figured that out. Maybe one day she’ll teach me stuff. Part of me can’t wait to see her in high school, but another part of me would rather see her sticking to small grocery lists xD


#13

Wow, Mayarra. Your little one is a future Memory Champion!


#14

My 13-year old can do a pack of cards in just under 5 minutes. I’m discouraging her from practising any more, because I don’t want her to beat me!

My 7-year old can memorise 52 images in 52 loci in the same time, but doesn’t yet know what image correlates to what card.

It seems to me that children take to this more naturally than adults. They seem more used to associating unconnected things.


#15

Im sad to not be joining the discussion just yet, no kids around nowadays… but just had to say this is by far my favourite thread up to now, thank you guys !!!

P.S only one day left to art of memory Kickstarter and still a tiny bit short ! This is a really cool initiative !


(Josh Cohen) #16

Thanks, we just made our funding goal! :slight_smile:


#17

Hey Folks,

I am a newbie here and this is my first post. I first came across this stuff a few weeks ago on a Ron White YouTube video and have become somewhat obsessed ever since.

I am in the process of building a couple of memory palaces with my family. We are about halfway through a 100 loci (I think that is the right term - 20 “rooms” with 5 spots in each room) for our house and a 50 loci palace at our gym. I have 8 year old twins and they are taking to it really well so far.

The first project is all the US states and capitals - that is what we are building the memory palace for at our gym. Will update you guys on how things are going as we progress.


#18

Thought I’d drop in with a quick update. So far my kids have taken to it like a fish to water. Without spending much time (let’s call it “unintended” spaced repetition) my son has now got 30 states memorized and climbing. My daughter meanwhile has used the memory techniques to remember the Canadian provinces and territories and we are partway through their capitals. What I find amazing is that they can remember them easily even when I ask them to go backwards or every 2nd one.

What has been the hardest part (though manageable) is coming up with images to associate with names for them. they are still young and have only seen/come across so many things to associate with an image. For example, for California, I can think of a surfer, the hills of San Francisco, the song Hotel California, Hollywood etc. but most of those are still not meaningful to my kids. As such, I can see how this gets easier as you get older and have had more experiences in life.

Anyway, I am really grateful that we came across this stuff. We are barely scratching the surface and I can see how it could make a massive difference for the kids.


(Josh Cohen) #19

Maybe “cauliflower” for “California”? :slight_smile:


#20

Good idea Josh. That could work. Thanks very much.