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Peg System for Memorization

After reading author Michael's response to my last post, I starting reading his blog and a few others that recommend the peg technique for memorizing large amounts of information. I'm going to try to explain this here in case other people are also unfamiliar with it. (To get more "from the horse's mouth," check out Michael's blog at: He's got really great memory-aiding stories and images worked out for the periodic table, the Bill of Rights, and many Latin and Greek word roots that are useful for lots of vocabulary tasks, not just medical terminology).

But here is the peg memory technique. Basically you memorize this set of rhymes and then use the image words as pegs on which to hang the items you want to memorize (there are other much longer lists of pegs out there as well):
1. One is a Bun
2. Two is a Shoe
3. Three is a Tree
4. Four is a Door
5. Five is a Hive
6. Six is Sticks
7. Seven is Heaven
8. Eight is a Gate
9. Nine is a Line
10. Ten is a Hen

After memorizing these through repetition, the next step is to build an associative image with the image you have pegged, through rhyme, to the numbers. For example, if you want to remember 10 things and the first one is that the symbol for hydrogen is H, here are the steps:

Memorization Steps:
1. Make sure you have "one is bun" memorized (just repeat it to yourself over and over - you'll use it to memorize many things).
2. Make up a story associating bun, H, and hydrogen. For example, H is for hamburger bun, which you are Holding, When you bite it, the hamburger is juicy and releases water (H2O or greek root "hydro" meaning water).

Retrieval Steps:
1. Think "one is bun"
2. You visualize a bun and think, what did you associate with bun? You hopefully remember the hamburger, H, and the juiciness, which reminds you of water -> hydro -> hydrogen

I think this is really great and can help those of us with poor rote memorization skills get a foothold nonetheless. In my next post, I'd like to discuss how memorizing foreign language material differs from memorizing material in other subjects.