You may think that knowing the state capitals is something you will never use. That may or may not be true. However, your brain is something that you always use, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. To keep your brain working you need to exercise it. Consider learning the states and capitals an aerobic workout for your brain!
Make the Connection Memorable
The key to success is learning and the key to learning is remembering what you have learned. Take a little extra time to make a mental picture or story, the crazier the better, and it will help you remember it.
Here are a few stories I made up:
1. Minnie and her husband Paul were taking a drive one day when Minnie said, “I’m thirsty, Paul. Can we stop for a soda?” Paul stopped and went into the store. He came back with a soda for Minnie. She said, “You are a Saint, Paul!” Saint Paul, Minnie-soda. (St. Paul, Minnesota)
2. It was spring and I took a walk in the field to enjoy the weather. I noticed that, after being in a quiet house all winter, it seemed really noisy in the field. There were lots of birds chirping, bees buzzing and children playing. My goodness! It was making me ill!
Spring-field, Ill-a –noise (Springfield, Illinois)
3. Ann and Oming were dating. Oming always wanted to take Ann to parties and out dancing but she wouldn’t go. She was very quiet. Finally Oming told Ann that he did not want to date her anymore. “Why, Oming?” she asked. “Because you are too shy, Ann.”
Shy-Ann, Why-Oming (Cheyenne, Wyoming)
If learning all of the states and capitals at once seems too daunting, do them in sets of ten. Make index cards with states on one card and the capital on another card. Mix them up and then try to match them. Work on ten at a time until you have mastered them. You may also want to draw a picture clue on the card, too. For example, when you write the word Arkansas, draw a picture of a little rock (Little Rock). On the Little Rock card, draw a picture of an ark (Arkansas). Those little pictures will help you remember.
1. Play a memory game with the index cards that you made. Turn them face down and then turn over two cards at a time and try to match the state with the capital.
2. Have an adult or friend play pitch and catch with you. One person names the state and pitches the ball. The other person names the
capital and pitches it back.
3. Use a puzzle! There are lots of puzzles available of the United States. Try to find one with just the state name and the capital on each piece. This is a great way to learn them. Also, it helps you to recognize the location and shape of the states.
4. If you are in the car on your way to school, practice or to a friend’s house take time to review. Have the driver name the state and you name the capital.
Jerry Lucas, a retired All-Star professional basketball player, is not only a great athlete. He is known as Dr. Memory for the memory programs and techniques that he has created. His theory is to make a picture connection to what you want to remember. One of his many books, States and Capitals and The Presidents, is a good tool to use. Once you have practiced the way he suggests, it will help you when you have other things to remember throughout your school career and on into adulthood.
After you memorize state capitals using these fun activities you will be able to use the ideas for other things you need to memorize. Becoming comfortable with a memory technique can benefit you for years to come and make studying a lot easier.