Memory pegging techniques are particularly useful for remembering numbered lists. Every list can be treated as a numbered list. We ‘peg’ each item to a visual symbol for its number. The method I would recommend is a rhyming approach.

In fact, I’ve mentioned the list below in my book, How to Be a Brilliant Thinker:

  1. Ton – One ton
  2. Zoo
  3. Tree
  4. Door
  5. Hive (with bees buzzing around)
  6. Sticks
  7. Heaven
  8. Gate
  9. Line (fishing line)
  10. Den (e.g. the lion’s den)
  11. Soccer 11
  12. Shelf
  13. Hurting
  14. Courting
  15. Lifting
  16. Licking
  17. Leavening (baking bread)
  18. Hating
  19. Lightning
  20. Plenty (horn of plenty)
  21. 21 Gun Salute

Say our task was to remember the first 12 elements in the periodic table. They are:

  1. Hydrogen
  2. Helium
  3. Lithium
  4. Beryllium
  5. Boron
  6. Carbon
  7. Nitrogen
  8. Oxygen
  9. Fluorine
  10. Neon
  11. Sodium
  12. Magnesium

Most people would find this a fairly difficult list to remember in sequence but we can do so by associating the image of the number with an image for the element. For example:

  1. A hydrogen bomb with a one ton weight hanging below
  2. Laughing hyenas at the zoo. They are laughing because they inhaled helium gas.
  3. A tree in our garden lit at night. (Lit gives us Lithium)
  4. Who is at the door?  It is Beryl
  5. We imagine ourself boring into a hive full of bees – suddenly they swarm out.
  6. We have some very old sticks which we are going to date using carbon dating.
  7. The heavens at night. We think of a star-filled night sky. (Night gives us Nitrogen)
  8. Behind the gate is a tent.  It is an oxygen tent and there is someone inside.
  9. We pull up our fishing line and find several tubes of fluoride toothpaste.
  10. There is a flashing light in the lion’s den.  The neon tube in the light needs to be replaced.
  11. Next week we have to play Sodium United. Their nickname is the Sods.
  12. On our shelf in the kitchen is a bottle of Magnesium Salts.

The more dramatic or ridiculous the image, the easier it is to remember.  Now we can easily remember any of the first 12 elements and give its Atomic Number. If you have to remember 40 or 60 items then you can do so by using a red list, a blue list and a yellow list. So 5 would be a red hive, 22 a blue zoo, and 51…a yellow soccer team.

Try this method when you next have an important list to memorize. After a little practice, you will be surprised at how well it works.

(Photo credit: Plenty on His Mind via Shutterstock)

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