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You will recall that in May 1998 I taught you how to remember a list of ten items using the Number Rhyme System. By finding an object that rhymed with the numbers 1-10 (for example wand rhymes with one and shoe rhymes with two) we created a mental peg system where we could "hang" an item from a list of things that we wanted to remember. We did that by associating each item from the list with the corresponding peg image using the principles of a super power memory that I talked about in April 1998. And just to remind you, those principles are:

  1. Synaesthesia/Sensuality
  2. Movement
  3. Association
  4. Humour
  5. Imagination
  6. Number
  7. Symbolism
  8. Colour
  9. Order and/or sequence
  10. Positive images
  11. Exaggeration.


As you now know, a mental peg system works like the cloakroom at a theatre. When you take your ticket to the attendant after the performance, you expect to get your coat back because your ticket corresponds to the peg on which your coat has been placed. You will recall that for a mental peg system to work we need to be able to take whatever item we wish to remember, put it on a peg and then recall that item by going back to the peg at a later time.

Previously I told you about NUMBER RHYME System, but this month I will explain a similar system called the NUMBER SHAPE System.


The Number Shape System works by taking the numbers from 1 to 10, picking a word whose image looks like the number and then creating a vivid image of that word which then becomes representative of that number i.e. the mental peg. Then when we think of that number the peg image will instantly spring to mind. You might think that you could become confused with the images that you already have for the Number Rhyme System. You will find, however, that when you think of the pegs for each system you will be asking yourself one of two questions. Either "What does the number sound like" or "What does the number look like?" Each question will give a different answer for the same number and with practice, you will very quickly be able to differentiate between the two.

Number Shape Images

I have used the following images:

  1. One looks like a candle - imagine a large ornately decorated wax candle burning a bright flickering flame.
  2. Two looks like a swan- imagine a large graceful white swan arching its beautiful neck.
  3. Three looks like the top of a red love heart - imagine a large red love heart cushion that may be given on Valentine's Day.
  4. Four looks like the sails of a yacht - visualise a large yacht ploughing through the ocean's waves.
  5. Five looks like a hook - can you see a large shiny brass hook?
  6. Six looks like the trunk of an elephant - imagine a huge grey elephant slowly plodding along.
  7. Seven looks like a walking stick - visualise a knobbly mahogany walking stick.
  8. Eight looks like an hourglass - imagine a large hourglass sitting in its red wooden stand as the brightly coloured sand falls through its narrow neck.
  9. Nine looks like a balloon on a stick - can you see a large red balloon tied to a wooden stick?
  10. Ten looks like a dinner plate - visualise a long table gloriously laid out with the best china and cutlery for a grand feast.

As with the Number Rhyme system, I have used the words that instantly spring to my mind when I think of each number and what it looks like. You can use my suggestions or come up with your own. It really does not matter as long as every time you think of a number, the same visual image springs to mind. The more you apply the principles of SMASHIN SCOPE, the more vivid and hence more memorable your images will be. Once you have chosen your words and created your mental image for each, practice and test yourself until you are confident that the Number Shape image for each number is firmly implanted in your memory.


 Let's consider a possible shopping list that you may wish to remember:

1. Milk

2. Sugar

3. Bananas

4. Lettuce

5. Tomato

6. Newspaper

7. Cheese

8. Butter

9. Bread

10. Lemonade

 To remember this list, use the principles of SMASHIN SCOPE and associate each number shape peg image with an image of the corresponding item on the list.

 For example you could imagine a Banana has been plunged through the centre of a bright red love heart cushion (Number 3). Make the image as vivid as possible by exaggerating the motion of the banana being pushed into the cushion. Enhance the colour of the scene, smell the banana, feel the contrast between the soft warm touch of the cushion and the cold hard texture of the banana skin.

 Now do the same for the rest of the items on the list. It should take you no more than about two minutes to do the entire list. So with your own imagination, associate the following images together:

A candle (one) with a bottle of milk.

A swan (two)with a bag of sugar.

A love heart cushion (three) with a banana.

A yacht (four) with a lettuce.

A hook (five) with a tomato.

An elephant (six) with a bar of newspaper.

A walking stick (seven) with a piece of cheese.

An hourglass (eight) with some butter.

A balloon on a stick (nine) with a loaf of bread.

A dinner plate (ten) with a bottle of lemonade.

 Now get someone to test you and I am quite sure that you will be able to remember the list in any order you want.

If you do make any mistakes it may be because some of your imagery is not vivid enough or your associations are not strong enough.

With a little practice you will overcome these problems and you will have no difficulty recalling any item on your list.

Use this system any time that you need to remember a list of 10 items. If you combine it with the Number Rhyme System, you can now remember a list of 20 items in any order that you want.

To ask about any aspect of Accelerated Learning, e-mail himself (at) . Due to Michael's hectic schedule, he may not be able to write back, but will do his best to cover the main issues raised, in future articles [more about Michael on the page here].

WELCOME PAGE The Accelerated Learning pages at Project HappyChild are written (free) by Michael Tipper,
Silver Medallist in the World Memory Championships.


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