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7 Mnemonics Every Parent Should Know

By Isabel Kallman

I like to work smart and sometimes we need some techniques to help us learn, or just remember things so we can look smarter than our fifth grader.

For a while I have been keeping a running list of my favorite mnemonics and I have shared them below. I’m sure there are more out there so please share in the comment section.

1. Spring Forward, Fall Back

This is the perhaps the most well known of them all. Admit it, you repeat this to yourself twice a year to remember. In case you don’t know this one, you move the clock forward during the Spring from 2am to 3am to begin Daylight Savings Time and you move the clock back in the fall from 2am to 1am to end it.

2. Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

Righty Tighty Lefty Loosey

I can’t believe I was in my thirties when i finally learned this one, especially since my dad is a mechanic. When turning bolts or a knob, you turn them right to tighten (or close) and left to loosen (or open). Yes, you can hear me singing the refrain every time I replace batteries or use the water hose. Photo source

3. Using “b” and “d” for Bread and Drink

How to Remember which is Bread plate and drink glass

You can usually also find me at a well-appointed dinner table making the “b” and “d” with my fingers. Look at the picture above. You get it now, right? You’ll Your kids will always know which bread plate and which drink glasses are theirs. Photo source: Hi Sugar Plum

4. Make an “L” With Your Fingers to Know Your Left Side

Left Hand making an L

When my son was younger I taught him him left from his right by having him make and “L.” It only works directionally with your left hand. Photo Source

5. Remembering How Many Days in Each Month with Your Knuckles

Remembering the number of days in each month

I still do this myself (you too, right?). I need to look at my own knuckles to know which months of the year are 31 days and which are 30. I can only really just remember February, October and December. For the others, I need my knuckles. Photo Source: Quiterly

6. Nines Multiplication Calculated with your Hands

Nines multiplication calculated with your hands

My eight-year old actually taught me this trick to remembering how to multiply by nine. Just use your fingers to help you calculate. Photo source

7. Order of Operation in Math (Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally mnemonic)

Order of OPerations in Math Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally

I had totally forgotten about Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally until today when I was astonished to learn through some Twitter conversations that so many adults (even an engineer– I do hope he’s using Excel at his day job) can’t remember basic math like multiplying before adding or subtracting in an equation. If you use the Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally mnemonic, you’ll be good if you can’t remember the Order of Operations math rule. Photo source

Can you share any others that we should know?

Isabel Kallman
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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  • Jadzia@Toddlerisms

    April 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Roy G. Biv:  the colors of the rainbow

    Every Good Boy Does Find (or “Deserves Fudge”):  music mnemonic

    • Isabel


      April 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks Jadzia. Of course, Roy G. Biv! Durr. I can’t believe I forgot that one!

    • Colleen

      April 8, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      My elementary school music teacher had a contest amongst her students to come up with an alternative to Every Good Boy Does Fine. Almost 30 years later & I remember the winner was: Empty Garbage Before Dad Flips. 

      I like Ned Eats Shredded Wheats (also heard Soggy Waffles) for cardinal directions working clockwise from the top. 

      • Jessica

        May 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

        And for the notes in between the lines, FACE!! I still amaze my husband with the multiplying by nines.

  • AmyRenee

    April 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Planets: My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos (Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune) – used to end in “nice pickles” when we counted Pluto as a planet

    Trigonometry: Lake SOH CAH TOA (soak-a-toe-a): Sine= Opposite over Hypotenuse, Cosine = Adjacent over Hypotenuse, Tangent = Opposite over Adjacent

    another months saying: Thirty days has September, April, June and November … There is more that says the rest have 31 except February, but I never needed to remember the exact wording beyond that point.

    HOMES: the Great Lakes: Huron Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior

    For some humorous spin on some more science/engineering mnemonics:

  • […] Mnemonics Every Parent Should Know | Alphamom from Alphamom on April 07, 2012 at 04:32PM […]

  • Kayla

    April 9, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Fork/Left (both have four letters), Knife/Right (both have five letters)

    • Isabel


      April 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

      never heard of that. brilliant. MUST USE. Thank you.

  • Michelle

    April 9, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    The gas in light bulbs is argon because when you break on the “Gases are gone”.

    The chemical elment for gold is AU because when someone steals your gone you are going to yell AU .My Science teacher taught me those and I have remember them since.

  • Tara

    April 10, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    When learning to set the table as a child, I’d recite the following: “All the silverware got into an argument. The knife and spoon were right, so the fork left.” I just remembered it again the other day, out of nowhere.

  • Beka

    April 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Instead of using my knuckles we had a phrase “Thirty days hath September, April June and November. All the rest have thirty one except February.” 🙂

    • Patz

      April 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Thirty days hath September,
      April, June and November,
      All the rest have thirty-one,
      Excepting February alone.
      Which has but twenty-eight days clear
      And twenty-nine each leap year

  • So You Think You Can Add

    April 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

    […] And apparently right.  And then some of them even wrote a post about it. […]

  • Leigh Ann

    April 22, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I still use “i before e, except after c.”

  • Laural Out Loud

    April 25, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I have a whiteboard calendar on my kitchen wall, and every single month I am STUMPED as to how many days are in the month.  My computer, and often times my phone, are upstairs, so I usually just make it 30, and then add an extra day when I get around to it, if needed, after checking.  YOU JUST SAVED ME with that fist bump thing!  Hallelujah for real! Because I don’t have to feel stupid anymore.

  • Farhad Ali Shah

    September 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    With the days of the month, i do like this to my students….

    30 days has September,
    April, June and Novemeber……
    All the rest have 31,
    Except February alone.
    Which has 4 plus 24,
    Till leap year gives it…………..
    ONE DAY MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Moreover, i appreciate the mnemonics about multiplication of 9.
    I hope i will not only never forget it, in sha Allah swt, but also i will never ever miss the chance to teach it to my students and especially my own kids……….

    Thanks Wonderful
    Please like my mnemonics page