There are many subjects in school that can be fun for students. It is easy for teachers to be creative with reading, writing, and science in order to make the subjects interesting and engaging for students. *What about math? *Most teachers also know all too well that math can be downright terrifying for many students. Math is concrete and can be too difficult for many students, especially those with learning disabilities. Students, however, do not need to be so fearful! There are solutions to this age-old problem. One strategy that can help students become successful in math is mnemonics, or more specifically, the pegword strategy.

**What exactly is the pegword strategy?**

Pegwords are words that rhyme with the names of numbers. Students can memorize the words in order to remember math facts. The words can be used to make stories, and there are flashcards that go along with the words to provide a visual for students. The pegwords for numbers 1-10 are as follows:

One = bun

Two = shoe

Three = tree

Four = door

Five = hive

Six = sticks

Seven = heaven

Eight = gate

Nine = vine

Ten = hen

There are flashcards that can go along with each number. The flashcard contains an illustration of the rhyming word, which is especially helpful for visual learners. For example, the flashcard for “sticks” is:

Let’s look at an example. If a student needs to memorize “6 x 6 = 36”, here is how it would work with the pegword strategy:

Another example…

**Does this strategy really work?**

Yes! There have been many research studies done to validate the use of mnemonics in mathematics instruction. Mnemonics improve recall and learning, especially in students with learning disabilities. Mnemonics help students develop better ways to take in, or encode, information, so that it will be much easier to remember, or retrieve (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1998). How does this strategy work? The purpose of mnemonics is to find a way to relate new information to information students already have stored in their long-term memory. Pegwords are words that most students have a firm grasp on. Most English-speaking students are familiar with the words that represent numbers 1-10. Consequently, it will be easier for students to remember math facts using those words.

**Who does this strategy work for?**

The pegword strategy works very well with elementary and middle school students learning a variety of math concepts. Once a student learns this strategy at a young age, it can be used for more difficult concepts in high school. Here’s how:

**Universal Design and Multiple Intelligences**

There’s more good news! The pegword strategy follows the learning guidelines for Universal Design, and it reaches students of various intelligences. The pegword strategy provides multiple means of representation. More specifically, it provides options for perception, language, and comprehension. The strategy also provides options in the tools for problem solving.

The pegword strategy can work well with students who have strong intrapersonal or interpersonal intelligences, depending on how it is used. Students can solve problems alone or with a partner or group. The strategy also works very well for students with a strong logical-mathematical intelligence, since those students are typically strong in math anyways. This strategy can also be helpful for students with strong visual-spatial intelligence because visuals are used along with the pegwords.

**Critique**

The pegword strategy can be succesful for many students, and has many benefits for teachers. The strategy works well with students of many intelligences, which is extremely important for teachers to consider when deciding which strategies to use. The pegword strategy has also been found to work very well with students with learning disabilities. A benefit to using this strategy (and a reason that it works so well) is that the pegwords are linking to information that most students already have stored. The pegword strategy can also be used in other subjects, such as science.

As with any strategy, there are some downsides to the pegword strategy. This strategy may not work as well with English Language Learners as it does with other students. This is because ELLs may not be as familiar with the pegwords as English-speaking students are. Another downside is that this strategy may not work well for students who have difficulty with memorization, since the pegword strategy does require students to remember a list of words and short stories.

**A Final Thought…**

Even though there are two negative aspects of using the pegword strategy, there are far more positive reasons to use it. Research has confirmed that most students have a much easier time learning and recalling math facts when using mnemonics. Even more good news is that the pegword strategy is just one strategy out of many more that can be used relating to math mnemonics. If a teacher is finding that for some reason the pegword strategy is not working very well for his or her class, there are many more strategies that can be employed! If it is becoming evident that traditional math instruction is not working well, try the pegword strategy or another math mnemonic strategy. Chances are, the students will be more engaged and have a much easier time learning math.

**References**

Mastropieri, M., & Scruggs, T. (1998). Enhancing school success with mnemonic strategies. Retrieved from www.ldonline.org.

The Access Center. (2006). Using mnemonic instruction to teach math. Retrieved from www.ldonline.org.

The Access Center. (2007). Using mnemonic instruction to facilitate access to the general education curriculum. Retrieved from www.ldonline.org.