Final Small NumbersFor some of us, numbers are just hard to remember. Dates too. They lack emotion, a human element, and are simply devoid of passion. For example, you may remember that Confederate gunfire on Fort Sumter ignited the beginning of the Civil War, but what was that date? Hmmmm. (April 12, 1861, I looked it up.) For students who have trouble memorizing cold hard dates and numbers, memory tools can help. If you can see it, sing it or associate it, you can remember it.

 Rhymes and Chants

Associating a number with something that you can visualize is key. An exceptionally creative teacher taught me this clever chant in elementary school. Decades later, it lives on vibrantly with me. 

How many feet in a mile? Well, there are five toes on each foot, two big toes, eight other toes and oh how they hurt. 5280; that’s how many feet in a mile.

Rhymes are another powerhouse tool for unearthing numbers buried in the brain. Think “Columbus sailed the ocean blue, in 14 hundred and 92?” Perhaps, you encourage students to make up a rhyme to remember their locker number.  49-31-17 – I’ll get a fine if I’m the one who stole the green. takes it a step further with advice for renaming numbers with rhyming images to help remember a sequence of numbers. Here’s a simplistic example. If five is “alive” and six is “fix”. An image of fixing a leaky boat to stay alive, relates to the number 65. 

Create a Ditty

Particularly for young elementary students, short, simple songs tend to take up permanent residence in the mind. Consider the most famous of all educational songs: the alphabet song. According to, the alphabet song dates back to the 1700’s in France.

Talk about staying power! Write your own sing-along to counting by two’s, five’s or ten’s. Sing-song a number by using notes that go up and down as the number does. Be creative.

Unlock the Code

The mnemonic system is another option. What’s easier to remember, “Vultures not eating the roadkill,” or 51384? The idea is that vivid imagery is easier to recall than strings of numbers.

Here’s how it works:

Assign a letter to each number, zero through nine. Then make a sentence out of words that begin with those letters: for example, 51384. If your key is: 0(o) 1(n), 2(w), 3(e), 4(r), 5(v), 6 (i), 7(s), 8(t), 9(n). (Code uses last sound of every number word with three exceptions: 2, 6 and 7.) You can remember 51384 by making up a sentence or phrase. Vultures not eating the roadkill or Vince now egging the racecar.

Bringing to mind a sequence of numbers is one of those lifelong necessities; a challenge that begins in elementary school and never ends. So, whether you relate best to a chant, code, or even cold hard memorization, the sooner you find out what works for you, the better.

Please feel free to share any of your number memory solutions with our readers, especially interesting rhymes or songs you create.