Rhymes to Remember Things

by - Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As a child, I learned several mnemonics to help me remember facts about the subjects taught at school. Roy G. Biv helped me remember the colours of the rainbow, for example, and 5678 told me that 56=7x8. 

My classmates and I found rhyming mnemonics to be the most interesting and memorable learning aids, and since my children have attended school I've found reason to learn new rhymes too!

In this post I present our favourite rhymes to remember things which I hope you and your children may find useful in your educational journey.

I before E (for the spelling of words)

Most people I know can recite at least the first two lines of this mnemonic by heart, though the third and fourth lines I only discovered in recent years:

i before eexcept after cor when sounded as aas in neighbor and weigh.

There are several variants of this rhyme, though I believe the above is the most popular (and certainly useful).

The sounds of vowels in words

A simple rhyme which comes in handy when teaching young children to read:

When two vowels go walkingThe first does the talking

For words like "oat" or "eat", here the second letter a is silent and first letter o and e respectively are pronounced in the examples.

A rhyme to learn the parts of speech

Here is a poem I've heard referenced many times, though was only able to discover the original in it's entirety after chancing on this discussion thread.

The "parts of speech" poem seems to originate from a book called An Essay on the Cultivation of the Infant Mind by J. R. Brown (London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1832) and is attributed to "Mr. Buchanan, jun."

Three little words we often see
Are ARTICLES—a, an, and the.
A NOUN's the name of any thing,
As school, or garden, hoop, or swing.
ADJECTIVES tell the kind of noun,
As great, small, pretty, white or brown.
Instead of nouns the PRONOUNS stand—
John's head, his face, my arm, your hand.
VERBS tell of something being done—
To read, write, count, sing, jump or run.
How things are done, the ADVERBS tell,
As slowly, quickly, ill or well.
A PREPOSITION stands before
A noun, as in or through a door.
CONJUNCTIONS join the words together,
As men and women, wind or weather.
The INTERJECTION shews surprise,
As Oh, how pretty! Ah, how wise!
The whole are called NINE PARTS OF SPEECH,
Which Reading, Writing, Speaking teach.

Multiplying negatives

A quick rhyme to learn the rules of multiplying negative numbers:

Minus times minus is plusThe reason for this we need not discuss

The days of the month

This simple poem helps us remember how many days are in each month of the year easily. The original author has not yet been uncovered, though references have been found dating back to at least the nineteenth century:

Thirty days has September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
Except for February, alone,
Which has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty nine in each leap year.

The Twelve Disciples

A rhyming poem to assist learning the names of the Twelve Disciples:

This is the way the disciples run.
Peter, Andrew, James and John
Philip and Bartholomew
Thomas next and Mathew too
James the less and Judas the greater
Simon the zealot and Judas the traitor

The Kings and Queens of England

This proves a useful rhyme for children trying to memorise the names of the Kings and Queens of England:

Willie, Willie, Henry, Ste
Henry, Dick, John, Henry three.
One, two, three Eds, Richard two,
Henry four, five, six, then who?
Edward four, five, Dick the bad,
Harrys twain, and Ned the lad.
Mary, Bessie, James the Vain,
Charlie, Charlie, James again.
William and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Four Georges, William, and Victoria.
Ed seven ruled till nineteen-ten
When George the fifth came in and then,
Ed eighth left when Simpson beckoned,
Leaving George and Liz the second.

More useful rhymes?

Do you know of any other useful mnemonic rhymes we could add to this selection? Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving your comments below.

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  1. These are great! Some I am familiar with from my own childhood, but not all of them. Rhyming generally seems to be a very effective way for children to remember things so they can be a really helpful, fun tool for learning.

    1. Thanks Mummy Zen! I find these fascinating, and was so glad to discover a couple of new ones while researching this post. The ones I learned as a child have stuck with me all my life!