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14 Old-School Tricks to Help You Remember These Everyday Facts

Updated: Feb. 13, 2023

These simple rhymes and mnemonic devices can help you recall everything from the alphabet to the Wonders of the World.


Know your ABCs

In the nineteenth century, children were taught the ABCs through a popular rhyme: ‘The Tragical Death of A, Apple Pie, Who Was Cut in Pieces, and Eaten by Twenty-Six Gentlemen, With Whom All Little People Ought To Be Very Well Acquainted.’
Here’s the rhyme:

A was an apple pie
B bit it
C cut it
D dealt it
E eats it
F fought for it
G got it
H had it
I inspected it
J jumped for it
K kept it
L longed for it
M mourned for it
N nodded at it
O opened it
P peeped in it
Q quartered it
R ran for it
S stole it
T took it
U upset it
V viewed it
W wanted it
X, Y and Z all wished for and had a piece in hand.

If we’re being honest, we think the song is a lot easier! Here’s the history behind the A-B-C tune.

Lyubov Levitskaya/Shutterstock

Spelling Lesson

FRIEs are for sharing with your FRIEnd.


Count to 20

Here’s a fun way for the kids to learn: One, Two, buckle my shoe, Three, Four, knock at the door, Five, Six, pick up sticks, Seven, Eight, lay them straight, Nine, Ten, a big fat hen, Eleven, Twelve, dig and delve, Thirteen, Fourteen, maids a-courting, Fifteen, Sixteen, maids in the kitchen, Nineteen, Twenty, my plate’s empty.

Here’s why you shouldn’t try to stop your kid from counting on his or her fingers.

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The four main compass directions

Simply remember the acronym NEWS: North at the top; East on the right; West on the left; South at the bottom


Months of the year

A physical mnemonic trick will help you remember how many days are in each month. Hold your clenched fists together, side by side. Begin with your left hand, naming the knuckle of your little finger as January. Next, the valley or dip between the first two knuckles is February, and the next knuckle is March, and so on. All the knuckles represent months with 31 days, and the valleys the shorter months.

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The order of the planets

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.
Try these phrases to help you memorize the order: My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nowhere OR My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos

You could actually eat those nachos in outer space—but not these 7 foods!


 The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

1. Statue of Zeus at Olympia
2. Lighthouse (Pharos) of Alexandria
3. Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
4. Pyramids of Egypt
5. Hanging Gardens of Babylon
6. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
7. Colossus of Rhodes

Use this mnemonic phrase to recall them: Seems Like Mata Hari Picked Her Targets Carefully.


Musical notes of the major scale

In the 1965 film The Sound of Music (one of many great musicals you should know by now), Julie Andrews’s character Maria teaches the children music. Her song may help you.

Do=doe, a deer, a female deer
Re=ray, a drop of golden sun
Mi=me, a name I call myself
Fa=far, a long, long way to run
Sol=sew, a needle pulling thread
La=la, a note to follow ‘sol’
Ti=tea, a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to ‘Do’

Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

Counting to six in French

Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq and six. Here’s a phrase to help you count: Un, deux, trois, cat sank—cease, please!

Here’s the story behind why French children are so well-behaved.


The 12 apostles

List the dedicated followers of Jesus with this well-known Sunday school rhyme: “This is the way the disciples run: Peter, Andrew, Jude and John, Phillip and Bartholomew, Thomas next and Matthew, too. James the less and James the greater, Simon the zealot and Judas the traitor.”


The four gospels

The first four books of the New Testament are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Try this to help you recite them, and you’ll impress your Sunday School teacher: ‘Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John went to bed with their trousers on.’

For more spiritual humor, check out these funny church signs.

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Be a lifesaver

Learn the chief goal of First Aid with the three Ps: Preserve life; Prevent deterioration in the patient’s condition; Promote recovery. Once you’ve got those down, avoid these dangerous first aid mistakes!


Setting goals

Initiate your future career by planning ahead and establishing reasonable goals. Simply, start by being SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time bound.


Basic DIY techniques

Don’t waste time, do things the right way the first time. If you’re dealing with pretty much anything that screws on or off, just think this: Righty-tighty, Lefty-loosey.

Here are 11 home improvement projects you can totally do yourself.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest