MoL working well for my 4-year old learning letters

My 4 year old and I have created a memory palace in the house for memorizing her letters and letter sounds, and it’s working really well.

What I’ve done is print letter animals from the site alphabetanimals.com. The letters are morphed into letters and I taped them at loci around the house. We go around and tell a story about the animal and how the animals makes the letter sound. Many of the letters are connected together in the story so each letter is not an isolated narrative.

For example, the the monkey makes the sound “mmmmmmm” because he loves the taste of his bananas (which he got from the previous animal) that he’s eating in the coat closet. Or the lion is standing on the chair singing “luh luh luh luuuuuh!”

She’s doing much better with the sounds than the letter names because the sounds are more memorable with this method. I haven’t thought of a good way to make the letter names more memorable as she doesn’t have a lot of referents for this. An example of a case where she does is the letter ‘B.’ B is represented by the bear who is going after honey. The bear is scared of the… you guessed it… Bee’s. There aren’t many other letters where it’s easy to work in the letter name like that, so I’ve mostly been going rote and just saying the name and having her repeat it, or doing letter hunt games where I show her the letter and she goes to find it even if she can’t name it yet.

Thoughts? Any way to make the letter names more memorable?

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When you are creating a narrative story to move along the alphabet or any other type of peg system, people say the more detail the better to find associations. I find that the details are found by having something that describes a subject, an action, an item, and a terrain, background, or location. Enhancements help make the images more memorable. My acronym for the five items is SEA-IT.

Here’s an example from alligator to bear connecting (anchoring) the peg systems for each type of data to the alphabet. Use as many as you can. If you need the rest of the alphabet pegs I can post them.

Subject Action Item Terrain by country Terrain by purpose
A ant, alligator axe, attach, attack, arrest, annoy, ache airplane, accordion, airplane, arrow, acorn, apple Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Australia, Argentina alley, art gallery
B bee, bear, butterfly break, bend, buzz ball, bell, bat, blocks, book, bottle Belgium, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria bedroom

Now you have some options to make a story. You first create the visual image of the first letter. Then you see what makes sense for a story in the next grouping and create the image and story for it. Then the next and so on. You’ll be adding the letter sound in as you can.

The story for your child might go: the alligator’s belly aches from eating too many apples in the alley. He says “my achy, achy tummy needs some meat.” He spots a bear with bees buzzing around their hive in his bedroom with honey he wants to put in a bottle. But the bear tells himself “Bee-ware!”

You’ll put in quite a bit of thought and have created a full book when you are done but it’s great fun to think up the images.

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Hi Doug,

Something about your work that I wasn’t clear on before is whether you add scenery in terms of terrain/backgrounds to the loci itself. When I use MoL I just have the loci be the scenery. For example, if I place an object at the front door of my house the front door is the only scenery.

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@QiJitsu, I think it’s up to you to make the choice there but you will want to enhance the front door to help out the visualization. You don’t want competing backgrounds since the background or terrain is just the locus by another name. I think your other choices would be

  • find the place that is exactly the place that the image should be associated with
  • find a similar place that can be enhanced like a muddy doorstep is actually the garden or a toy car in a box represents a garage.
  • or morph the two locations together as in a business storefront appears as you walk down your hallway or a cold winter blast comes from the fireplace where it’s a portal to the Artic.

I’m happy to give you more suggestions if you need them.

I did this for my kid too. In french they have books called abécédaire, which is like a “ABC-tionary.” I found one where each letter has a 3-frame cartoon where an animal morphs into the letter. I wrote up a person-action system that goes like: “A-animal A-verbs B-animal,” “B-animal B-verbs C-animal”. Concretely: “le Jaguar a jété le Koala”

If he learns the alphabet with it, he’ll have a PO peg system to use in school etc.