The grocery list was easy, but what about longer lists, such as a list of all of the states of the United States? If you forget a word in a middle, the chain is broken and you've lost the rest! Also, if you want to remember the 15th state -- useful if you memorized the states in order of population or size -- you have to recall the first fourteen. Another way to memorize lists is to use what are called"peg words."
Before we begin, memorize this short list of peg words. Note that they are numbered, and the peg word actually does translates into the correct number, so you should be able to form some associations right away.
Practice recalling the peg words before continuing.
Now, let's use the peg words to memorize a list of the five biggest cities in Michigan, in order: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Flint and Lansing. We'll take each of the peg words and place them next to each item in the cities list. Next, we'll form some simple paired associations between the words. Note that instead of making a huge chain, we are now working with only pairs.
PEG ITEM ASSOCIATION
1. Hat Detroit Picture large top-hat with Model T cars
stiched on it in an interesting pattern
2. Hen Grand Rapids Hen steps into a river, then is quickly
carried away and gushes through rapids
3. Ham Warren Ham on platter is given to Warren Beatty
(movie star), who looks at it oddly
4. Rye Flint Start with rye bread. Use Flint and
steel to make spark to burn the bread!
5. Hill Lansing The hills are alive with the Sound of Music
(movie)! The whole land begins to sing!!
After studying the above associations, cover it up, then look at the five peg items by themselves. Can you name all five cities on the list? Hopefully, you can. Note that we've solved our problem. Our long chain of items has been changed to a numerical chain, an easy list of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. These correspond to a certain peg item, which, after a little practice, you can easily name. Finally, we associate simple pairs of words: the peg words with the actual list of items. You probably could have done it easily by using the short list method -- I didn't want to give you a huge example so fast -- but it's obvious that this method would be very helpful for long lists (like the 50 states).
To memorize longer lists, all you need to do is memorize a basic set of peg words, words which are derived from their associated numbers directly. Some example words are given below; you can also come up with your own. Try to come up with the shortest possible words for your list, because many different words can stand for a number, and you want to reduce the number of possibilities. (When memorizing numbers that aren't peg words, you can use longer words, because in that case, you will only be converting words to numbers, and a word always produces a unique number.)
1. Hat 11. Dot 21. Net 31. Mat 41. Road
2. Hen 12. Town 22. Nun 32. Moon 42. Rain
3. Ham 13. Dime 23. Name 33. Mummy 43. Room
4. Rye 14. Tire 24. Nero 34. Mower 44. Aurora
5. Hill 15. Doll 25. Nail 35. Mule 45. Roll
6. Shoe 16. Tissue 26. Notch 36. Match 46. Rash
7. Cow 17. Duck 27. Neck 37. Mug 47. Rock
8. Ivy 18. Taffy 28. Knife 38. Movie 48. Roof
9. Bee 19. Tape 29. Knob 39. Map 49. Rope
10. Toes 20. Nose 30. Mouse 40. Rose 50. Lace
The peg words method for lists is great for lists of items that must be in a specific order, because peg words are tied to specific numbers. Assuming you've previously memorized the five peg words, note how easily you can come up with the 4th item -- just go 4... rye... Flint -- without having to go through items 1 through 3 first. For unordered lists, where the assigned number is not important, you could even exchange items in the list to come up with easier associations.
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