The human skeleton is made up of 206 bones, which fit together in an extremely specific pattern. Each bone of the body has its own name, location and function. Many people are required to learn and remember all 206 bones of the body. Because there are so many bones, it is extremely difficult to simply memorise each bone. However, there are tricks and techniques you can use to learn and remember the bones of the body.
Study the bones by looking at a skeleton. Although you may be able to learn the bones by looking at pictures, viewing a skeleton will provide greater benefits. When looking at the skeleton, observe the different shapes and structures of the bones. Observe how they fit together and the directions that they move. You may be able to make a correlation between the name of the bone and its location or shape. For example, most people know the location of their temples, and this is an easy way to remember the temporal bones, which are located in the area of the temples.
Break the bones of the body down into smaller sections. For example, divide the bones into the following groups: head, torso, arms, hands, legs and feet. This may help you to memorise all 206 bones in the body. It is often easier to remember small groups of objects, rather than trying to remember a large list of individual objects. Then, study the bones in their groups. For example, study all the skull bones at the same time, and then move on to the torso bones.
Use flashcards to quiz yourself on the bones once you become familiar with their names and locations. Although you can create your own flashcards, it will likely be easier to purchase pre-made flash cards from a bookstore. Group your flashcards into the different sections you designated in the second step. As you flip through the cards, set aside all the cards that you answer incorrectly. Then, once you have gone through the entire stack, review the cards that you answered incorrectly. Study these cards for at least 30 to 45 minutes every day.
As you study the bone names, try picturing the actual bone in your head. Picture the shape and structure of the bone, along with its location in the skeleton. By associating the name of the bone with its shape and location, you are giving yourself more opportunity to remember the bone in the future.
Employ mnemonics whenever possible. Mnemonics are study devices that help us remember information. An example of a well-known mnemonic is "Roy G. Biv," which helps many people remember the colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. If mnemonics help you remember, create as many as you can to remember the bones of the body.
Learn a poem, song or rhyme that names all the bones of the body. Many people find it easier to remember something fun and lyrical, rather than trying to memorise a long list of formal names. You may either write your own lyrics or search for lyrics online. The popular children's television show, Hannah Montana, also provides a fun and catchy way to remember the bones of the body. In the show, the main character writes a song to help her remember the bones. Although the song was written for a kid's show and has pop-music qualities, it may actually help you. For example, an excerpt of the song includes: "Phalanges I have ten, And Metatarsals then, I got some tarsals too, I'll put 'em in my shoe . . . The Fibula is next according to my text, then comes the tibia, that ain't no fibia . . . " The complete lyrics for the song can be found online (See Resource 1).