A 10 year old Presidential candidate

When a child begins Brainjogging, one of his or her first exercises during sessions, if he or she is at a cognitive level that allows for the successful assimilation of such knowledge, is learning poems and stories in an effort to strengthen auditory memory.  One of students’ favorite stories is one that Shirley Pennebaker, M.Ed., founder and director of Pennebaker Learning Center and creator of Brainjogging, created about the Presidents of the United States of America. Mrs. Pennebaker’s story is silly – when children laugh, they engage their cerebellums and are more likely to retain new information.  The story includes hints for remembering each President’s name in chronological order.  The story begins, “In Washington, Adams was jeopardized by a mad monster.” Each italicized word functions as an audionym, meant to draw students’ attention to the similarity between the word provided and the name it invokes.  Jeopardized, for example, signifies Jefferson; mad signifies Madison; and monster signifies Monroe.  Students learn the first five Presidents by remembering only one sentence!  Mrs. Pennebaker’s story invokes the same logic as does Yo, Sacramento! and its Presidential counterpart Yo, Millard Fillmore!, which is an excellent accompaniment to Mrs. Pennebaker’s story.

After learning Mrs. Pennebaker’s story, students learn a corresponding series of physical movements, which also engage the cerebellum. Once a student learns both the story and its motions, the story and the Presidents’ names go into the child’s Brainjogging program.  Next, students encounter a poster containing each President’s photograph.

Upon teaching this story to one student from LaGrange, Georgia, A., his Brainjogging instructor found that A. really enjoyed learning about history.  A. eagerly accepted the challenge of learning the Presidents’ names, asking questions about many of their Presidencies.

Brainjogging instructor Hannah Lybrand poses with a potential President, ten year old A.

A. knew a great deal about the Presidents, too; he mentioned Jefferson’s penning the Constitution and FDR’s having Polio.  A. wondered aloud, “Martin Van Buren sounds like a bad guy from a movie like Terminator – was he a bad President?”  Brainjogging recognized the boy’s appetite for history, and thus fed his curiosity accordingly.  A.’s instructor recorded all questions to which she didn’t know the answer, unless they involved a Terminator character, and provided the student with answers during his next session.

After initially moving through the story, students glance over a poster containing each President’s picture; many children do well with visual affirmation of information.  After A. identified President Obama as America’s 44th President, he added, “And then – President Me!” This boy one day wants to rule the planet, and to be the youngest and best President, by his own admission.  Why not? Brainjogging might one day be recognized as the program that resuscitated the youngest, best President’s enthusiasm for academia!


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