Loci Mnemonics


Through this activity students create an association with familiar physical locations to assist in remembering a process, list, or set of facts. This process develops students’ metacognition, and helps them to become more mindful and effective in their studying


Catherine Ullman-Shade

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Metacognition
  • Visualizing
Memory Development

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline
  • Metacognition


Identify items that you would like students to work on remembering. You can also allow students to choose their own topics to work on from a unit of study. This strategy is particularly useful in remembering items in a particular order, such as items in a sequence or series, or arranged in a hierarchy. However, it can also be used to memorize a set of randomly ordered items.

Activity Steps 
  1. The teacher leads students in a brief discussion about what mnemonics are, and why people might use them. Students share mnemonics that they are familiar with.

    Students should know that mnemonics are tricks or tools that people use to remember something more easily or more completely. You may want to make sure that students recognize the common etymology of the words “remember,” “memory,” and “mnemonics.”

  2. Teacher introduces the idea of the method of loci, and presents some examples to students.

    Through this strategy, students visualize a familiar physical environment that they can imagine moving through. Then they imagine placing pieces of information in order along this physical location, creating associations between each piece of information and its location. They can then imagine traversing the location in order to remember the information in order. You can ask students to practice this strategy by asking them to close their eyes and visualize a classroom in which students have assigned seats. Then ask them to pretend that they were asked to name all the students in that class. Ask them to imagine looking around the classroom and naming the student who sits in each seat.

  3. Teacher presents students with the information that students will be working on. Students place the pieces of information in their most logical order. Students prepare to work individually or in pairs.

    As mentioned above, you can give students a very specific set of information to remember (e.g., the order of presidents, the lobes of the brain, the steps of solving word problems), or you can direct students towards a unit of study and ask them to identify information that they need help remembering.

  4. Students brainstorm a physical locale that is very familiar to them, and that they move through frequently. Students visualize a route through the locale. Students jot down their ideas or discuss them in pairs.

    Circulate as students are working and help them if they are stuck. Examples could be walking from room to room in their house, or walking from school to a corner store, or walking from home to school. The route should be a very familiar one with defined landmarks.

  5. Students imagine moving through the route and “placing” each piece of information, in order, at defined landmarks on their route. Students visualize each piece of information at each landmark.

    Some students may benefit from creating a map or picture of the route and the information to aid in visualization, but eventually they should work towards doing it entirely mentally.

  6. Students get in pairs. Each student describes his/her route to the partner. Then, partners take turns quizzing each other on the information, and use their visualized routes to aid in recall.

    You can circulate among pairs at this point, to gauge understanding and help students who are struggling. You can ask students questions about how this strategy is aiding recall.

  7. Alone or in groups, in conversation or in writing, students reflect on their learning process.

    Students respond to questions including: · How will this strategy help you to remember this idea? · How will this strategy help you to study for a test? · How do loci visualizations make information easier to remember? · What other tricks might you use to remember something more easily or more completely? · When else might you use this mnemonic strategy?

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