A rousing game of Name the State Capitals can be fun with friends, but if you're horrible at memorization, it can be downright embarrassing. Short-term memory isn't a problem for most of us--it's the long-term remembering and retaining that gets us in trouble. Combine the following steps for foolproof memorization of our fifty state capitals.
Make up a song. The most successful methods for memorization usually stem from mnemonic devices. Mnemonic devices are memory aids. Pick a popular song and change the words to include all fifty capitals (make sure it rhymes). Sing along to your chosen song (with your newly written lyrics) on a CD player, Ipod or stereo. You will be surprised at how quickly those state capital lyrics get stuck in your head.
Draft a short story. Writing a story that incorporates the state capitals will help you memorize in the same mnemonic way that creating a song does. Make sure your story is short and has memorable details. Obscure or overly creative stories will cause you to forget.
Memorize by region. Memorizing the New England capitals, for example, will help you categorize the names in your head and enhance the effectiveness of your song or story. When you're practicing your song and have a mind blank, your brain can automatically narrow down the options by region.
Play a game. We associate games with positive memories because they are fun. There is no better way to practice your memorization techniques than to emphasize them with state capital games. There are plenty of these available online--do a quick Internet search to find a number of choices.
Visit the capitals. This is a time-consuming and expensive step, but you will not forget the state capitals if you see them up close and personal. Visiting a place helps you remember details that are specific to that location.
- Create a word search or crossword puzzle. Similar to playing a state capital game, drafting a mind puzzle challenges your brain to solve and memorize at the same time.
- Practice makes perfect. Memorization is tricky. Don't stop using your song, story or game just because you have the state capitals down cold. Stop for a month and see how many you can remember. Unless you maintain your practice sessions, you won't be able to recall all fifty state capitals.