About: In my shop I have a name for hammer, saw, and plier. The saw is Tess, the hammer's Joe, and Glumdalclitch is the plier. Yes, I'm brillig, and my slithy toves still gyre and gimble in the wabe. With that, le…

When my boys were little I'd help them with their school work. One of the most daunting tasks for them was memorizing facts such as all the state capitals. So I made a game out of it. Instead of going through all 50 states, here is a sampling of what I did. Randomly, I selected 3 states by putting all their names in a "hat" and drawing out 3. Oregon, Louisiana and Kentucky. Arbitrarily, I selected 3 things about each state to memorize: its shape, its capital and its number of joining the union. You, of course, may substitute any fact your child has to memorize.


It is so simple to Google images. Oregon. Louisiana. Kentucky. Now to memorize the SHAPE.


When you use a "hands-on" approach to any task, it helps you memorize it. So to start, print an image of the state. Staple a blank piece of paper to the back of it. Outline it in marker. Cut it out. Staple the blank image to the front of the state. Now look at the shape and guess the state. Imagine doing this with all 50. If you can't recall just flip up the blank shape and voila! You can lay out all the blanks and start naming the states by shape. Repetition. Rote is a good way to memorize stuff, too. That's how I learned the multiplication tables. To this day I still hear myself saying 9 time 9 is 81 etc.

Remember, this is your child's assignment. Your child should do each task, not you. You may help if necessary.


Here's the fun part. Using your imagination. Have your child personalize this as best he (sorry, I'm OLD school and you may substitute THEIR, THEM, if you wish) can. Here is how I came up with mine. You want to easily visualize an answer. Make a vivid image in you mind. The more outlandish the better.

Oregon's capital is SALEM and it was the 33rd state to enter our union. Oregon is on the Pacific Ocean. I pictured a boat with an OAR (OREGON). SALE 'EM to Oregon was an easy image. On the sale was the number 33. Draw that image as best you can. Or make a collage of images. Have your child do whatever is easiest and most visual for him. FOR HIM--not YOU. Make sure your child does it. He's doing the memorizing, not you.

Louisiana's capital is Baton Rouge and it was the 18th state to enter our union. The first thing I think of when I think of Louisianian is Mardi Gra Parades. I pictured the classic Jester marching. He is carrying a RED BATON (have your child look up the meaning of Baton Rouge). The baton has the number 18 on it. I colored it RED.

Kentucky's capital is Frankfurt and it was the 15th state to enter our union. Two things came to mind immediately for this. Frankfurters aka Hot Dogs and Forts. The forts from the pronunciation of Frank-Fort. So I pictured a wagon shaped like a hot dog arriving at Fort 15. I colored the hot dog and added some yellow mustard.

You get the idea, right?


Doing projects like this with your child is so much fun. My youngest son, Wifey and I are a Trivia Team once a week. The idea for this Instructable came up when following a state capital question my son who is now 33 reminisced about how he still recalls the state capitals from when he and I did this together and tossed out an image of the sun with wheels in the shape of a car driving to Nevada to gamble. Carson City being the capital of Nevada. I'm going to be 75 and I still remember my mom helping me with spelling pigeon. The letter E on the side of a PIG. PIG E ON. When you're young, things stick with you, especially images.

This method can be adapted to almost anything. Imagine memorizing the Periodic Table. Or South American countries. Or the flags of the world. You get the idea. Just have fun.

Let me know how this works if you try it. And as usual, any and all questions are happily answered.

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    2 years ago on Step 4

    Washington and Oregon are mixed. You have them in the wrong place.

    Kink Jarfold
    Kink Jarfold

    Reply 2 years ago

    You have no idea how many times I "didn't even look" at that picture. I just copied/pasted it because it was colorful. I owe you big time since this is a contest entry. If there is ever anything I can do for you, just let me know.