There are several easy ways to memorize all 50 states and their capitals. Regardless if you are a fifth-grader learning them for the first time or an adult refreshing your memory, the techniques are the same. Each technique requires a certain amount of concentration. The harder you concentrate, the quicker you’ll have the list locked into your memory.
Song technique– Everyone knows the alphabet song. That’s how we learned our A..B..C’s. So it shouldn’t surprise you to know there are several songs that help memorize states and capitals.
One song is designed to help memorize the 50 state names and their location on the map and can be viewed on YouTube. Starting with Washington, the song calls out each state in its geographic location on a U.S. map. Oregon is next followed by California then to Nevada and Idaho and so on. Unlike other songs that teach the names randomly or alphabetically, this song puts them in a sequential order on the map. The map is divided into sections, and each sequence has a unique song. This segmentation makes memorizing easier and faster.
Another song to consider is one that uses a rap format to memorize the state capitals in a rhyming pattern. The capital and state are identified by a rhyme and not by location or where they fit on a map.
Flash Cards – This old-fashioned way of memorizing is still around. A deck of 50 cards with the State name printed one side and its capital on the other is studied over and over using only tore memory. The cards are much better suited for testing what you learned from one of the other memory techniques.
Visualization – It’s a fact that your brain remembers images more easily than abstract words. In the memory techniques mentioned above, the state names are exactly that: abstract words.
In order to take advantage of mental visualization, we need to create images that represent each of the states and capital cities. Once the each pair is memorized with a visual image, then we can link each pair together in our mind until there are 50 links in the chain. This technique is formally called visualization and association.
Another technique professional magicians use to quickly memorize a list of words or name of strangers is to use a storyline or mental map the magician already has memorized. For instance, the first five images in the magicians mind might be a ball, a yoyo, a surfboard, a bicycle and a scooter. He scans the list of states in alphabetical order, then recites the list by first visualizing the name Alabama printed on the ball, a bear (Alaska) playing with a yoyo, a surfer on a board in the desert (Arizona) and so on and so.
The memory visualization technique has been around a long time dating back to a book printed in 90 B.C. called Rhetoric Ad Herennium. Even then they knew that the best images to use for memorization are ones that are funny, outlandish and exaggerated rather than plain or uninteresting.
Concentration – The optimum way to memorize anything is to give that process your entire undivided attention. Turn the radio and television off. Find a quiet, secluded place where you can study alone without interruption. For a YouTube state song lesson, use an android tablet or computer and sing along to your heart’s content with no one poking fun at you. Test yourself silently using flashcards. Close your eyes to concentrate even harder and visualize those objects and the names associated with them. Before you know it, you’ll have those states and their capitals locked in your memory bank forever.