O&M Mnemonics: Using Music, Rhymes, and More

Julie Holland’s workshop at the 2017 CAOMS Conference, Monterey, CA

Goal: Discuss devices to aid memory (both teachers and students), to help make lessons fun and productive.

Devices we use to aid memory:

Acronyms (DEAR, KISS)

Songs (original or familiar tunes)


Physical motions (to remember “b” vs. “d”: 2 thumbs, fists together, make “bed”)

Actions (every time you say the “B” word—“bored”—everybody make a face)

Story (multiplication: 2 sevens went to a party, mom said be back be-“4-9”)

Repetition, chanting…

Kinds of O&M info that these devices could help with: (Possibilities are truly endless!)

Street names in order

Basic cane use (back and forth, cane in front)


Environmental concepts (sidewalk, curb, street…)

Directional concepts (front, back, up, down…)

Negotiating doors with a cane

Stairs (up or down)

Human guide

Protective techniques (UHF, LHF, foot probe)…

Make your devices SAFE: 






Name memory game: 

“I’m [Name]. I like [alliterative food].” Go around, adding on.

Intro game:

Pair up, talk for 2 min., then each person introduces 2-3 non-work-related things about their partner. (Does the group remember their name from the first game?)

In Common

Get into new groups of 2-4 and come up with 5 things you all have in common. Present to big group if time. No school- or work-related items.

(#12 on http://faculty.virginia.edu/schoolhouse/WP/icebreakers.html)

What Have You Done That’s Unique? 

Request each person introduce herself by stating something she’s done that she thinks no one else in the class has.  If someone else has done it, the person has to try again to find something unique!

(on list at bottom: https://www.thoughtco.com/ice-breaker-the-name-game-31381)

One-Word Story

We tell a story as a group, each adding a word. First person might say “Once,” second person “upon,” third “a,” fourth “time,” and so on. (http://www.bbbpress.com/2013/01/one-word-story/)


Julie’s Original List of O&M Mnemonics*


  • “Landmark Song” (rough draft, original tune)

To find a place, use a landmark. (Primary! Secondary!)

Find a place, use a landmark. (Primary! Secondary!)

Primaries are detectable; they’re not easy to miss.

Secondaries can be helpful, too, but they might be easy to miss. (Watch out!)

  • Street Sequence: #1 is best; it goes east to west. Spell out with your mouth letters go north and south (for downtown Sacramento orientation)
  • Parallel vs. Perpendicular: Pick a route and lay lines elegantly: Pair of arms, Pair of legs, Parallel we march ahead. Hope your fingers one parallel, thumb goes perpendicular.
  • Cardinal Directions:

Never Eat Slimy Worms

Never Eat Soggy Waffles

Not Everyone Seems Well

Not Everyone Sips Wine


  • “Always hold the rail. Always hold the rail. Always hold the rail, please. Always hold the rail.” (tune “Farmer in the Dell”)
  • “Cane in front, cane in front, can you walk with your cane in front?” (repeat as desired; original tune [coming soon])
  • “Stand up, look forward, walk tall…” (repeat as needed; tune https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r11Gmdq__-8 beginning only)
  • “Top to bottom, left to right. Scanning with our sight. Top to bottom, left to right. Bum badabumbum. Bumbum.” (original tune [coming soon])
  • In step: Kick the cane
  • Left/Right Song:

Louie on the left, Roscoe on the right.

Cane visits left, Cane visits right.

(Replace Louie and Roscoe for names familiar to your student)

  • Arc width: Keep it “clean” (c-shape)
  • Stair travel:

“Arm extended” song

“Throw the cane” at top of stairs

Hand on the rail to protect your tail,

Where’s your light saber to protect your cane?

Pose with your cane when going up the stairs

Height of the riser (high pitch), depth of the tread (low pitch)


  • Intersection analysis: Shape, Controls, Size, Directions of traffic, Visibility

Sam Can See Dragons Vomiting Spaghetti

  • Rural travel: Upper Protective Techniques for Kids
  • Answer to a trivia question is an acronym for a sequence of landmarks along a route
  • Street-Crossing Info:

“Don’t be LEFT behind. It’s RIGHT ahead.”

“Wall of protection”

“Flow with syrup cars, not the pancakes.”

“Clear the gutter” (make your letter w/ cane)

“Make a rainbow and cit it in half”

“Track the crack”

  • Bus Travel:

Ask the bus driver if this is the right bus

Once you’re on the bus, tell the bus driver where you want to stop

Next thing you need (X2) Ask the bus driver to help you find a seat

Once you find a seat (X2) Don’t fall asleep, and listen for your street

  • “Street-Crossing Chart Song” (original tune and recording)

Upon arrival, verify two streets are here,

You are aligned, and your path is clear

Analysis: stop signs, traffic lights, or no?

Visibility: shape, volume, width, and flow?

Is it a safe or unsafe place to cross here, man?

If safe, tell me your two-part crossing plan.


Timing: all-clear, near-parallel?

Scanning: basic or lane-by-lane? Do tell.

And then we cross: extra arc, step off, scan as you go

Adjust the pace or line of travel if you need to, though.

Be sure to clear…

Verify orientation, and we’re here.

  • “Low Vision 4 Steps of Safer Crossing” (rough draft, original tune)

I’m on [Blank] Street, crossing [Blank] Street.

Control is stop sign, stoplight, or nothing?

Crossing’s safer because no cars, I see the “walk” signal, or a grownup’s with me.

  • Scanning Plan:

Hickory Dickory Dock, you’re scanning like a clock

Look left before you walk, or you may see the doc


*Information here is for educational purposes only. Writers are not responsible for any accidents, misinformation, or other mishaps; check your O&M sources before relying on this information.

*Elements of this list copyright Julie Holland. All other elements copyrighted to any respective corresponding names. All rights reserved. You are welcome to use these mnemonics educationally. Please honor the fact that all online material is copyrighted by the DMCA. You may not sell or distribute content in any manner or medium without permission. Please feel free to contact Julie Holland for assistance with any original tune.

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