Visual study aids are a valuable tool to utilize in the learning process. It is important to take information out of your textbook and to put it into different formats to facilitate learning. Examples of study aids include acronyms; acrostics; anchoring or bridging the gap activities, cartoons and pictures; connections and associations; flash cards; matrixes; rhythms, rhymes, and jingles; story lines; time lines; and visual maps.
- Words formed by taking the first letter of key words in a list of items.
- HOMES is an acronym to memorize the five great lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
- FOIL is an acronym in mathematics to multiply binomials. F for firsts, O for outers, I for inners, and L for lasts.
- ROY G. BIV is an acronym to memorize the colors as they come through the light spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
- Sentences formed by taking the first letter of key words in a list of items.
- My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas is an acrostic to memorize the planets in their order moving away from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
- Please excuse My Dear Aunt Sally is an acrostic for the order of operations in mathematics: parenthesis, exponents, multiplication and division from left to right, and addition and subtraction from left to right.
- King Phillip Can Only Find Green Snakes is an acrostic to memorize the classification of organisms in biology: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.
- Every Good Boy Does Fine is an acrostic to memorize the lines in the treble clef in music: E, G, B, D, and F.
- A Cow Eats Grass is an acrostic to memorize the spaces in the base clef in music: A, C, E, and G.
Anchoring or Bridging the Gap
- When a new topic is introduced, spend a few minutes thinking of any information you may already know about the topic.
- Bridging or anchoring new information to former information already well established in your memory is an excellent tool to utilize in the learning process.
- Our mind works like a hook. The more associations and connections you can make between new and former information, the better your chance to learn the information and to recall the information at a later date.
In 1890 Psychologist William James said:
"The human mind is essentially an associating machine. The more facts a fact is associated with in the mind, the better possession of it our mind retains. Each of its associates becomes a hook to which it hangs, a means to fish it up by when sunk beneath the surface. The secret of a good memory is thus the secret of forming diverse and multiple associations with every fact we care to retain."
Cartoons and Pictures
- Useful to provide a visual dimension to an idea.
- Used to draw your attention to a key idea.
- Add color for emphasis.
- Can be drawn simply by using stick figures.
Connections and Associations
- Process of linking two or more items together.
- The more connections and associations you can make between new and former information, the better your chance to learn the information and to recall the information at a later date.
- Use for formulas, definitions, and vocabulary.
- Use colored paper.
- Shuffle flash cards each time you use them to study.
- For hands-on learning, spread flash cards on the floor, move them around with your hands and pick them up to quiz yourself.
- A form of visual mapping in which information is arranged in level of importance from the top down.
- Add color-coding and various ahpes or pictures to strengthen the visual image.
- Charts with columns and rows used to compare and contrast two or more subjects.
- The lines separating the different material help to distinguish each individual section.
- Use color-coding for emphasis.
Rhythms, Rhymes, and Jingles
- Formed by listening for words that rhyme or by attaching a catchy tune to a saying.
- Add emphasis by changing the intonation of the voice when reciting the information.
- Add emphasis by using body language when reciting the information.
- "Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one, excepting February alone, and that has twenty-eight days clear and twenty-nine in each leap year" is an example of a rhyme to remember the number of days in each month of the year.
- Create a story to include the list of words or ideas that you wish to memorize.
- Used to present a list of dates in chronological order.
- Can be drawn horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
- Very useful when students need to commit a series of dates to memory.
- Color-code each event and its date to add emphasis.
- Used to create a picture of an idea.
- Help to show a sequence of events.
- Help you more from general to specific.
- Use colors for emphasis.