Presidents of the United States of AmericaCan you name all of the US Presidents? With practice, you'll be able to do so quicker than you may have thought.
We'll start off with a technique that's a wonderful example of the Link System, including the use of substitution phrases for hard to remember words. Here's Uncle Dave's approach for memorizing the presidents:
Practicing the above will easily allow you to name the Presidents in order, but what about out of order? Think-a-Link has some easy and effective ways to link the US Presidents with their order.
A great way to remember both the President's names and a little about them is via the now-classic Animaniacs Presidents song:
Note that this video was recorded so long ago that it fails to mention George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Quiz Time: Click here to test yourself on the U.S. Presidents.
YouTube: You can learn about the U.S. Presidents in more detail from this series of documentaries.
Challenge: If you run into someone like yourself who has memorized all the U.S. Presidents, bet them that they can't name 44 different U.S. Presidents. Nobody can, since only 43 people have been U.S. President. Yes, Barack Obama is the 44th President, but Grover Cleveland ruined a nice, easy count by being the 22nd and 24th U.S. President.
States & Capitals of the United States of AmericaIt's called the United States of America, so the states and their capitals are very important to learn.
Here are some sites with great mnemonics for the states and capitals available for free online:
• 50 States of Mind
• B. Galloway's Memorize States and Capitals
• Learn the State Capitals
• Think-a-link's American state capital links
The Animaniacs sing the U.S. states and capitals in this skit, to the tune of Turkey In The Straw:
If you want to challenge yourself by learning the U.S. states in alphabetical order, check out the 50 State Rhyme and the Fifty Nifty United States.
Before they became the United States of America, they started out as just 13 British colonies. Here's Larry Nickell's mnemonic approach to memorizing the 13 original colonies, in order of admission to the Union.
Quiz Time: Click here to test yourself on the U.S. States, and here to test yourself on the U.S. Capitals.
Challenge: Ask someone to name the only letter of the alphabet that doesn't appear in the name of any of the U.S. states. It's Q. Even harder, ask someone if they can name the only state whose name doesn't have any letters in common with its capital. The answer is Pierre, South Dakota.
State Flags of the United States of AmericaThere are many people who know all the U.S. Presidents and/or all the states and capitals, but far fewer know all the U.S. state flags.
It's so unusual, in fact, that I couldn't find a ready-made resource for U.S. state flag mnemonics anywhere on the internet. I decided I had to create this resource myself. The result is a series of videos covering the flags of all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C..
The videos break the states up into 7 small groups, covering less than 10 states each, that have some common theme. In each video, easy mnemonics are taught for each flag in that group. Working through one video at a time, you can learn all the flags at your own pace.
Quiz Time: Click here to test yourself on the U.S. State flags. Challenge: Ask your friends which state existed for almost 75 years without a state flag. It's Iowa, which became a state in 1846, but didn't adopt a flag until 1921.
Constitution of the United States of AmericaMemorizing aspects of the U.S. Constitution is often considered to be the hardest aspect out of all the things taught on this page, despite the fact that there are fewer amendments than there are Presidents, states, or capitals! The first part of the Constitution is called the preamble, and is taught in this song from Schoolhouse Rock:
Don Knotts, performing in character as Barney Fife, once performed a masterful comedy bit involving his inability to remember the Preamble.
The other aspect of the U.S. Constitution that's challenging to remember are the amendments. On my blog, I wrote a series of posts detailing mnemonics for the individual amendments:
• Amendments 1 through 9
• Amendments 10 through 18
• Amendments 19 through 27
In the 1993 remake of the movie Born Yesterday, there's a great scene where Billie Dawn (Melanie Griffith) demonstrates how she remembers the order and meaning of the amendments, using the music from 12 Days of Christmas:
Unfortunately, due to editing and time constraints, you never get to hear the full song. Did you notice they kept skipping the 3rd amendment? Thankfully, Amy Anderson and Jennifer Mantlo of Warren East High School (Bowling Green, KY), were inspired enough by Douglas McGrath's original song (written specifically for the movie) to flesh out the lyrics for all 27 amendments:
1. The first amendment to the Constitution says....freedom of religion, speech, and press. The second part of the first amendment says....peaceful assembly and just say any crazy thing you like (Assemble and be nice, and just say any crazy think you like!)
2. The second amendment to the Constitution says....right to bear arms (Here is my gun freeze!)
3. The third amendment to the Constitution says....soldiers get out, please. (Soldiers get out, please)
4. The fourth amendment to the Constitution says....where's your warrant, please? (Where's your warrant, please?)
5. The fifth amendment to the Constitution says....don't rat on yourself? (Don't rat on yourself)
6. The sixth amendment to the Constitution says....right to a quick trial (Right to a quick trial)
7. The seventh amendment to the Constitution says....jury trial in civil cases (Jury trial in civil cases)
8. The eighth amendment to the Constitution says....don't lock me in dark places (Don't lock me in dark places!)
9. The ninth amendment to the Constitution says....powers of the people (Powers of the people)
10. The tenth amendment to the Constitution says....the states have rights too (States have rights too)
11. The eleventh amendment to the Constitution says....suits against states (Suits against states)
12. The twelfth amendment to the Constitution says....election of the Pres. (Election of the Pres.)
13. The thirteenth amendment to the Constitution says....slavery is invalid (Slavery is invalid)
14. The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution says....equal rights for all (Equal rights for all)
15. The fifteenth amendment to the Constitution says....all races get the ballot (All races get the ballot)
16. The sixteenth amendment to the Constitution says....Congress can take taxes (Congress can take taxes)
17. The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution says....we elect Senators too (We elect Senators too)
18. The eighteenth amendment to the Constitution says....alcohol will kill you (Alcohol will kill you)
19. The nineteenth amendment to the Constitution says....women vote like men do (Women vote like men do)
20. The twentieth amendment to the Constitution says ....terms of office, Pres. and Congress (Terms of office, Pres. and Congress)
21. The twenty-first amendment to the Constitution says....we can drink now, WOW! (We can drink now, WOW!)
22. The twenty-second amendment to the Constitution says....only 2 terms now (Only two terms now)
23. The twenty-third amendment to the Constitution says....DC's got the vote (DC's got the vote)
24. The twenty-fourth amendment to the Constitution says....pay to vote no more (Pay to vote no more)
25. The twenty-fifth amendment to the Constitution says....if Prez dies, we've got Vice. (If Prez dies, we've got Vice)
26. The twenty-sixth amendment to the Constitution says....we can die, we can vote (We can die, we can vote)
27. The twenty-seventh amendment to the Constitution says...Congress wants more money (Congress wants more money)Quiz Time: Click here to test yourself on the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, and here to test yourself on the Constitutional amendments.
Challenge: Ask someone if they can tell you which amendment took the longest time to ratify. It was the 27th amendment, which was first proposed in 1789, but not ratified until 1992.
Learn more about the United States of America
Once you've got all these basics down, use them as a jumping off point to get interested and learn more about the USA. The more you understand, the less you have to memorize. Here are some great resources, in rough order of growing complexity, to help you start the process:
Schoolhouse Rock's America Rock videos
How to Memorize the Presidents in Order, X-Men Style
Yo Learnalot: Books and apps with American History Mnemonics.
Sample video: Yo, Millard Fillmore! - The First Ten Presidents
Today in American History
The N States of America: American flag design with more or fewer stars
Draw the USA America's Memory
Slideshow: Memorizing the Presidents
History.Net's American History column
American Treasures of the Library of Congress (Online exhibit)
Docuwatch's American history videos
From the History Channel:
The States (documentary series):
• Nevada: Part 1, Part 2
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
US States page
Don't forget a simple search for those specific aspects that spark your interest!