I picked up the sixteen-year-old from Lacrosse conditioning (Yes, it’s *that* time again already! Season begins in March!) this afternoon and he told me how excited he is that he got to turn in his psychology book today; the semester ends next week.

Oh yes, he’s excited about being finished with psychology…he’s taking a semester of U.S. Geography in its place for second semester and is, well, psyched about it.

I said, “You seem pretty excited about geography.”

He replied, “I AM! What could be easier than learning U.S. Geography?”

I smiled as I thought of how he, as a three-year-old, had been given a puzzle that was a map of the United States. We worked with him on that stinkin’ puzzle everyday. It only had the 50 pieces, but we did it over and over…and over…and over. While we did it (and redid it…and redid it), we named the states and taught him to recognize them. He had special factoids attached to some of them (Tennessee is where Grandma and Grandpa live, Florida is where Mickey is, Wisconsin is where cheese comes from*, etc.).

After a while, this little three-year-old could do that puzzle–while naming every single state–in a heartbeat. We even tried to make it harder for him by covering a piece and giving him a hint about which states it belonged next to, and he could name it and then put it where it was supposed to go.

Then the puzzle got old, and he seemed to forget about ever knowing the states.

In the car today, when he declared how easy this class would be for him, I thought that he figured that the puzzle he once mastered would somehow help him out, because we’ve told him how amazing he was at knowing the states. I was only partially right. After making his declaration, he started singing the states. In alphabetical order.

I laughed and said, “Where’s that from?”

“Oh, fifth grade. It’s a song called “Fifty Nifty States”. It helped us learn them.”

Here is the song he was singing; the state part is at about :44.

Amazing. Or was it? When I searched Youtube for that song, I re-discovered this (something way more familiar to me), a lesson on the capitals from the Animaniacs, whose videos (uh-huh, VHS tapes) we *wore out* when the boys were little. It’s catchy. Watch a bit.

The Animaniacs taught about the presidents, too.

Guess what? I just looked in the family room closet and the tapes are still there. I seem to recall trying to get rid of them but was told, “MOM, we may watch those again someday.” (and I believe this conversation happened less than a year ago)

This got me to thinking. My boys and their generational peers aren’t the first to have learned catchy tunes as kids that carried them through later lessons. After all, how many times have you used a crutch like this one during English class?

Or history class?

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s ever sung to herself, “Weee the peeee-ople, in order to form a more perrrrrfect union…”

Seems to me that we’re all Little Einsteins, one way or the other.

*I realize that Wisconsin is not the only place that cheese comes from. This particular puzzle had pictures of cows and cheese all over Wisconsin!