The peg system is a very simple technique. A standard set of peg words are learned, then items to be remembered are linked to the pegs with visual imagery. The system was developed by Henry Herdson back in the mid-1600s, who linked a digit with any one of several objects that resembled the number. For example, 1=candle, 2=trident.
The system got its name from the fact that peg words act as mental pegs or hooks on which a person “hangs” the information that needs to be remembered. The peg words help organize the material that needs to be remembered, and act as reminders to recall that material.
There are different peg systems that one can use, all of which employ the use of a concrete object to represent each number. The systems include the rhyming method, the look-alike method, and the meaning method.
In order to use the rhyming-peg method, you must first memorize the words that rhyme with the corresponding numbers one through ten:
One-bun; two-shoe; three-tree; four-door; five-hive; six-sticks; seven-heaven; eight-gate; nine-vine; ten-hen.
As you say each word, visualize the item clearly. Is the bun a hot dog bun or hamburger bun; does it have sesame seeds? Is the shoe blue or white? Laces or velcro? Is the tree an oak or birch?
Next, draw each item on a sheet of paper. Just the act of drawing will help you to remember the rhyme easier.
Once you have formed an association, or visualized a pictorial link between the numbers and the words that rhyme with them, you have constructed your pegs. Practice by saying each word aloud. Because the words rhyme with the numbers, you don’t have to say the numbers to remember the words.
Now, if you want to remember a list, all you have to do is link each item with a peg-the first with a bun, the second with a shoe, and so on.
Here is how you would remember the following grocery list:
Peas, pork chops, milk, bread, eggs, butter
Attach each item on the list to one of the rhyming words, making the association as vivid and ridiculous as possible. The sillier your image, the easier you will remember. Try imagining peas tap dancing on a bun; picture a pig with a shoe on its head; imagine a milk carton in an oak tree. And so on, until you have associated each item on your list.
Now when you think of a bun you see the peas. When you think of shoes, you will think of pork chops, etc.
This method can be used to help you remember lists, errands, daily activities, etc. Have fun with it!