Great Lakes/Great Lakes Geography/Great Lakes North America

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How to Remember the Five Great Lakes

Two Methods:

The Great Lakes are a chain of freshwater lakes located in eastern North America. They are the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth. Several popular memory devices make it easy to remember their names. Learning more about the characteristics of each lake will also help you recall them.


Using Memory Devices

  1. Learn HOMES.HOMES is the most popular mnemonic device used to remember the great lakes. Each letter in HOMES stands for a different lake. If you can remember HOMES (as in, the lakes provide HOMES for many species of birds and fish) you'll be able to remember the five lakes. Here's what each letter stands for:
    • H is for Huron.
    • O is for Ontario.
    • M is for Michigan.
    • E is for Erie.
    • S is for Superior.
  2. Remember "Superman Helps Every One".If thinking about a super hero is likely to get your brain's wheels turning, this mnemonic might be the one for you. The first letter of each word in Superman Helps Every One stands for a lake. This lists the lakes geographically from West to East, which can come in handy if you're labeling a map. Remember,
    • S is for Superior.
    • M is for Michigan.
    • H is for Huron.
    • E is for Erie.
    • O is for Ontario.
  3. Recall the Hebrew name for Moses, Moshe.The name Moshe means "to pull or draw out of water," just as Moses was pulled out of water as a baby. Since there's water involved, remembering the name Moshe might help you remember the lakes. As a reminder,
    • M is for Michigan.
    • O is for Ontario.
    • S is for Superior.
    • H is for Huron.
    • E is for Erie.

Learning More About the Lakes

  1. Learn about Lake Superior.It's called Superior because it is larger than all of the other Great Lakes combined. This gigantic lake contains 10 percent of all the world's fresh surface water. Lake Superior touches Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario, CA, and is the western-most lake of the five.A few more interesting facts:
    • It's home to 88 species of fish.
    • It can produce waves as high as 40 feet tall.
    • Some of the world's oldest rocks can be found on its shore.
  2. Learn about Lake Michigan.Lake Michigan is the only lake to be located entirely within US borders. It's the third largest lake of the group. Chicago and Milwaukee are two major cities located along the lake.In addition,
    • The lake is home to a metallic eel species called sea lamprey.
    • The Petoskey stone, a pebble-shaped coral, is located on its shores, and it's Michigan's state stone.
    • Since in summer the water is warm enough to swim in, Lake Michigan is sometimes referred to as the United States' third coast.
  3. Learn about Lake Huron.This lake has the longest shoreline of all the great lakes. By surface area, it is the second largest great lake and the fifth-largest lake in the world. It is home to 30,000 islands.Also of note:
    • More than 1,000 shipwrecks have taken place there.
    • It is named for the Wyandot Indians, or Huron, who used to live there.
    • The surrounding areas are remote and sparsely populated.
  4. Learn about Lake Erie.Lake Erie has the greatest temperature fluctuations of all the great lakes; it's the warmest in the summer, but it freezes over the most often in winter.Many major cities sit along the shore, including Buffalo, NY; Toledo, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; and Erie, PA. The lake's main outlet is Niagara Falls. In addition,
    • The lake played a significant role in the war of 1812.
    • It has it's own legendary lake monster, named Bessie.
    • It's home to the Erie Canal, one of the gateways to the west.
  5. Learn about Lake Ontario.Lake Ontario is the smallest and easternmost lake of the bunch.It lies right at the base of Niagara Falls. It has nearly 2,000 islands, many located in the Thousand Islands region near the US-Canada border. Also of note about this lake:
    • It has a rich history of commerce and trade.
    • The area around the lake has the perfect climate for growing fruit trees.
    • The lake is home to a number of migratory birds.
  6. Test yourself by looking at a map.Now that you know the great lakes backwards and forwards, look at an unlabeled map and try to figure out which lake is which. Writing down the names and one or two facts about each lake will help cement the five lakes in your memory.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Why are they sometimes called homes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    H-O-M-E-S is a mnemonic device to help you remember the names of the five lakes: Huron Ontario Michigan Erie Superior
  • Question
    Why are they called the Five Great Lakes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    They are called the "Five Great Lakes" because they are the biggest lakes in North America. They are also "grouped" together geographically.
  • Question
    Where can I find a list of the Great Lakes with their sizes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    An online search or an encyclopedia would probably be your best bet!
  • Question
    Can you boat in the lakes?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
  • Question
    How were the Great Lakes formed?
    Community Answer
    They were formed by glaciers, and filled in with rainwater and snow-melt runoffs, so they are freshwater.
  • Question
    Were the Great Lakes once part of the ocean?
    Community Answer
    No, the Great Lakes were formed by glaciers, and are freshwater, fed by rainfall and snow-melt. Water flows out of the lakes, keeping it fresh. Another clue that there was never an ocean there is that the region is part of the "goiter belt," so named because of very low levels of iodine in the surrounding soil. If there had been an ocean there, plenty of iodine would be in the soil.
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Quick Summary

If you need help to remember the 5 Great Lakes, use the mnemonic device HOMES, where each letter stands for a different lake. If you can remember the word HOMES, you can use that to remind you that the names of the lakes are Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. If it’s easier, you can also rearrange the letters to spell “MOSHE,” which is the Hebrew name for Moses.

Did this summary help you?
  • Regularly mentally quiz yourself to help you remember.
  • Talk aloud if you are alone! Regularly saying these facts will help you remember.
  • If you are with someone (Mom, Dad Or Friend) let them test you on your knowledge.

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Views: 549,200

Evelyn Hales

Jul 19

"Always fascinated with them and could never remember them all at the same time, until this article. Loved it, andnow I can visualize them all together."
Rated this article:

Pamela Wheeler

Sep 15, 2019

"I only wanted the name of one lake, for a crossword. but found the whole topic so interesting I read it all. Iremember learning this at school on the 1960s and enjoyed refreshing my memory. Thank you."

Jackson Jorash

May 22, 2019

"I needed to learn the five Great Lakes for my schooling. This article not only helped me with the names, but taughtme a bit about each lake, and emblazoned it in my mind extremely well. "
Rated this article:

Joyce McKeough

Oct 16, 2019

"I enjoyed reading all of the facts unique to each of the lakes, and the reminder that HOMES was called a mnemonic.I had forgotten that word."


Feb 22, 2019

"The shipping on the Great Lakes has opened up a new frontier for me. You article is well presented and easy tounderstand. Cheers."


Nov 9, 2019

"The two strategies that helped me the most is to remember HOMES and to remember Super Man Helps Every One! Thanksagain! "

Kaitlyn Gavin

Sep 11, 2019

"Awesome! I needed to study for the five great lakes at school and this page helped me a lot. Thank you. "

Bob L.

Nov 23, 2019

"I had Ontario and Huron mixed up in my mind, associating Lake Ontario with the province Ontario."


Dec 15, 2019

"I have to take a test over the five lakes and couldn't remember them, this helped a lot."

Spud Martin

Aug 22, 2019

"Just trying to remember the names of the Great Lakes and this helped me. "

Michelle Reinhart

Aug 31, 2019

"The mnemonic way to memorize the Grest Lakes was awesome!"

Don MacFarlane

Dec 8, 2019

"How to remember the names (HOMES) helped. "


Dec 14, 2019

"I can remember the lakes better this way.

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Date: 08.12.2018, 01:06 / Views: 94455