It’s true that a picture is worth quite a few words. (Gotcha, didn’t I? You thought I was going to quote that old cliche, as I’m probably over-fond of cliches, using them more times than you could shake a stick at. But why would anyone want to shake a stick, I ask you?)
Anyhow, I remember from a memory-training course (good thing, wouldn’t you say?) that you can boost retention by using images, and the wackier the image, the more you’re likely to remember.
Say you have a shopping list to commit to memory. (I happen to write mine down, but say you want to keep yours in your head.) Tuna, emery boards, shampoo, salad dressing, ice cream. Envision yourself coming home and you’re greeted by a giant Charlie the Tuna, standing on his tail, filing his… well, Charlie might act like a person but he doesn’t have any nails to file, so I guess he’s filing the end of his fin? Or perhaps his teeth. Okay, that takes care of tuna and emery boards from the list. Moving on, perhaps his head is all foamy with shampoo. “Just a sec,” he says to you, and puts down the emery board to pour some salad dressing over a bowl of ice cream. “Yummmm,” he says, “Would you like some?”
Trust me, when you get to the store, your list will scroll through your brain and you probably will remember every item.
New Monic Vocabulary Cartoons: SAT Word Power work along the same principle. They use ridiculous pictures coupled with words that sound like the word you’re trying to memorize, causing you to form a word association between the word and its definition. One example that you can see on the website’s free samples page is for the word “fathom,” where you see a picture of a boy holding up his swollen thumb. It’s bigger than his head, and a puzzled doctor is scratching his own head and pondering the x-ray. The caption tells you that “Doctors could never fathom the reason for Larry’s fat thumb.” The page also provides a pronunciation guide and definition.
The idea is, when you see the word “fathom” on a test, you’ll think of Larry and his thumb and you’ll remember the definition of the word.
The beauty of the concept is, it works.
A complete list of the words included in this book is here.
The cartoons are clever and memorable, often humorous. It was difficult for me to get a look at the book when it first arrived, as Middlest (our wordcrafter) spirited it off the moment she set her eyes on it. Middlest knew most of the words in the book already, but she found it good for review. Youngest and Eldest are the ones who benefited most from the word study, and they had fun doing it.
You can get SAT Word Power Volumes 1 and 2 and books and resources for elementary vocabulary building at the Vocabulary Cartoons website. SAT Word Power (Volume 1) is $12.95.
Read more TOS Crew opinions here.
Disclaimer: As members of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we received a free copy of Vocabulary Cartoons: SAT Word Power for review purposes. Opinions offered are our own. No monetary compensation was involved.