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Methods to Learn the 100 Messages

It’s our experience that children are very good at memorizing (much better than many adults!). Imagine how much some children are required to memorise for religious purposes!

At Children for Health it is our dream that, before they leave primary school, every child has learnt and shared 100 important health messages. We hope that these are either translated versions of our messages or messages that have been carefully designed by teachers and checked with people who are experts in health and both sets of people understand and are close to the reality of the lives our child ‘memorisers’ lead. We hope they have learned the messages so well that that they ‘stick’.

The PCAAN Logo
The logo for the PCAAN approach in Tete, Mozambique

We have successfully used a method called The Memory Line to help teachers and children learn the eight nutrition messages that forms the backbone of the PCAAN Nutrition Curriculum in Mozambique. Read more about this project here.

Children, their parents and their teachers can help them practice memorising, here are some helpful tricks, tips and ideas (thanks to Colleen at her blog Somewhere Over the Rainbow)!

1. Put the message(s) to music

Children can hear a silly rhyme or song once and sing it again days later. Something about the rhythm, rhyme and melody helps it stick. Think about it. How do we teach them their ABCs? We sing them. Whatever you want children to learn, the chances are increased significantly if you put it to music.

2. Use an ‘echo and repeat’ method using a ‘magic’ glove

Put on a ‘magic glove’. When it points to you, it’s your turn to say the message. When it points to a child, it’s their turn. When learning the message, say just a few words at a time and then have the child repeat (echo) what you say. Add on one or two more words each time.

3. Repeat the message in different voices

This is a fun way to increase repetition while minimising boredom. Have the kids recite it in baby talk, in a British accent, in an army sergeant’s command, in an opera singer’s voice, in a whisper, in a fast-speed chipmunk voice, in a robot voice, in a Donald Duck voice, in a country western style, etc. You get the idea. Be creative and have fun with it.

4. Erase it bit-by-bit

For children who can read, write out the entire verse on a dry-erase board or chalkboard. Have them read it aloud and then chose one word to erase. Read aloud again (including the missing word) and choose a second word to erase. Continue to repeat. Eventually, the entire message will be erased and they will repeat it on their own.

5. Create an acronym for a list of messages

Instead of writing out the entire list of messages, give them the first letter of each word as a “cheat sheet”. Use this tool with “Erase It”… works well for adults too!

6. Review often

If you don’t use it, you lose it. Review especially right before bedtime. Whatever a child hears, sees or experiences immediately before going to sleep, sticks with them throughout the night.

7. Create an acrostic

Lists can be challenging to learn, especially in the right order. come up with a sentence made of words that started with the same letters. Many school age children learn the planets in order the same way. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune = ‘My Very Energetic Mum Just Served Us Noodles’

8. Break it up

When children are memorising anything of significant length, it’s always helpful to divide it into manageable pieces.

9. Use more senses 

The more senses your child uses, the more engaged her brain is and the stronger the impression left on her memory. It has been said that we only remember a small amount of what we hear, a greater amount of what we hear and see, and an even larger amount of what we hear, see, and do. When helping children memorise, add visual aids and/or actions. Sign language or other simple hand gestures assist with the memory process.

10. With our list of messages you can ask the children to do a memory ‘tour’

Picture yourself standing outside your home. Make connections between your life and with the list of messages. This method can be used for remembering a list of objects or a list of events. All you need is key words and associations for them. It may help you to come up with funny things that occur along your path. We are asking groups of children to come up with memory tours linked to our messages and we will be featuring these on our blog and in our Collection!

Children learn and remember in lots of different ways. Some people find ‘mind maps’ really helpful and make messages ‘stick’.

Please write to us to tell us how the children you work with memorise well.