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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Math Memory Tricks

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Sometimes memory tricks, or mnemonics, can help a student who is struggling with the basics, like components of math.

Here is a way to remember how many feet are in a mile. Say to yourself the phrase, "five tomatoes." There are 5,280 feet in a mile, and those numbers (5 - 2 - 8 - 0) sound very similarly to "five tomatoes." See the table below for a visual explanation.




Here are a few memory tricks to help students remember the definitions/differences of range, mean, median, and mode:

Range - Tell them to think of a gas range that has high and low temperatures. This helps them to remember to subtract the lowest from the highest number.

Mean - the "a" in mean stands for the average.

Median - think "mid" - the number or numbers in the middle.

Mode - think "most" - the number or numbers that occur the most.


Here's a memory trick for the 11 times table:

This only works (simply) for 11 times two-digit numbers.

Let's say you want to multiply 11 by 23.

Write down the 23, but with a space between the two numbers:

2 3

Add them up and put that number in the middle.


That's the product of 11 x 23.

Let's do another, multiplying 11 by 41.

Write down the 41, putting a space between the 4 and the 1:

4 1

Add 4 and 1, and put their sum (which is 5) between the 4 and 1.


The product of 11 x 41 is 451. Is this making sense now?

If you have a carry over, you have to add it into the left number, so it's not as sweet and clean as you would want, but it's still cute and fun for kids. You can extend this for 3 and more digit numbers, but carry overs become more complicated as the number of digits increase.






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