Just before I started High School, my mother purchased a series of videos entitled “Where There Is A Will, There is an A.” This series of videos suggested you could use “brain tricks” to help you memorize large chunks of information. Looking for patterns, creating words out of initials, and making up silly sentences that triggered the key information needed is what the videos went over. I don’t know what it was, but it worked for me! I used it all through High School, College, and the military.

Once I started teaching, I knew I would show my students these tricks. Like every other educational strategy, some kids buy in more than others. The trick is to make it funny! Paint a picture with details. I was going over the map with my students, and I ran out of time to explain the hints. So I posted it on twitter, one reply after another, so they would be linked together. Problem solved.

15 minutes later, I was scrolling through my twitter while the next period was labeling their map, and I saw a former student, now at La Verne University, reply to my post with this…


So Beto inspired me to share this set of Mnemonic Devices.



  1. No Smelly Fish (Norway/Sweden/Finland.)
  2. Every Lady Likes Peanut Butter (Estonia/Latvia/Lithuania/Poland/Belarus)
  3. I SEE “MARKS” base”BALL” collection (Ireland/Scotland/England/English channel/Denmark/Baltic Sea)
  4. Purple Snakes Fart in the Long BrowN Grass (Portugal/Spain/France/Luxembourg/Belgium/Netherlands/Germany)
  5. CASH (Czech Rep/Austria/Slovakia/Hungary)
  6. {saying C B & A in Spanish} C B y A (Croatia/Bosnia/Yugoslavia*/Albania) *Yugoslavia is now called Serbia-Montenegro, but for the purpose of recognizing it in 10th grade World History, we will call it Yugoslavia
  7. {Spanish trans= Things w/o cream} CoSas Sin Crema (Corsica/Sardinia/Sicily/Crete)
  8. A Small Man Adds Inches Around his Belt (Atlantic O/Straits of Gibraltar/Med S/Adriatic S/Ionian S/Aegean/Black S)
  9. Ur Mice have Ripped Bulging Muscles & Gang Tattoos (Ukraine/Moldova/Romania/Bulgaria/Macedonia/Greece/Turkey)
  10. **PAC Man (Pyrenees/Alps/Caucasus Mtns)  **I drew three Pac Man characters near the mountains.

So, if you can remember these 10 Mnemonic Devices, you can memorize 51/54 of the terms on the map. For the record, the North Sea, Switzerland, and Italy are not attached to any phrase.

Of course, showing your students these hints won’t help them memorize the terms in one sitting, but for some of them, it might just be silly enough to entertain them and encourage a little practice. And isn’t that the name of the game? 

Big picture: get your kids comfortable creating these silly sentences. They will be engaged more when they make their own. Take a look at some of these here. Be inspired!