How can I use the Loci Method as a Memory Strategy in the Classroom?

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The loci method helps students memorize better.The loci method, also known as the memory palace, method of place or journey method, is an ancient mnemonic strategy. In this method, the individual remembers a list of objects or digits by placing or visualizing each object/digit on a very familiar route, journey or place.

For example, if a person has to memorize five items on a shopping list like toothbrush, apple, soap, carrots and perfume. He will first visualize a familiar place or area like his house and associate each item on the list at a particular location, i.e. he opens the main door and finds an apple and carrot drinking juice in his living room; as he proceeds to his bathroom, he finds a huge toothbrush dancing to his favorite song; the individual steps out and makes his way to the dining room to find a bar of soap and a bottle of perfume eating dinner.

The person can later recollect his list simply by following the visualized route around his house. So when he thinks of his living room, the individual will remember the apple and carrot, his bathroom will symbolize the dancing toothbrush and so on.

Incorporating the loci method in the classroom

Children have great imagination and the loci method is, therefore, a good technique to help them remember details of their lesson. Here are some methods by which you may integrate the loci method into your class.

Sticky notes: This can be organized as a warming up activity to get all your students familiar to the procedure of the loci method. You have a list of 5 objects that the students should memorize. Each student gets 5 colored sticky notes with their names written on the non-sticky side. Instruct them to write down the name of an object from the list on the sticky side and stick the note somewhere in the room. Now let them go back to their tables and try to list down the objects. They always have their colored sticky note as a prompt. Though this technique doesn’t fully rely on the loci method, with time, you can avoid the use of notes and depend solely on the route.

Walk around: Consider a class on taxonomy of animals. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of the class and allow your students to walk around your classroom, encouraging them to mentally associate the groups with a particular locus like the blackboard, bulletin board, main door, teachers table, etc. Now walk around the room and as you reach a particular locus, ask the student to mention the group associated to that area.

Create a vivid picture: A student who has a more visual imagination has better ability of retention and recollection of information. Therefore, instruct students to create a vivid picture bearing in mind the information and location. Write down reference points and the list to be remembered on the black board and give your students time to create a picture involving the two. You may then erase the list, leaving just the reference points and ask the students to write down the list in their notebooks. In most cases, the students will get the entire list correct.

Story telling: Another way to use the loci method is to create stories with the information as characters. In this way, students are able to remember digits, dates, locations, personalities, pieces of information, etc.

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