Years ago, when my very own visual learner saw triangles in her algebra homework, she panicked. "Hey, that's geometry. Why are they throwing that into my algebra homework?" she asked.
I had previously substituted in a high school geometry class for weeks. I felt qualified to make up a story to help. One of my teacher friends yesterday asked me to remind her of the story of the Hippo and the Hypotenuse. She said her kids still remembered that. Underneath the first silly story is another to help you remember sines and cosines.
Once upon a time there was a Hippopotamus (Sounds kind of like hypotenuse doesn't it?).
a2 + b2 = c2
The reason I originally came up with the idea of the hippo was that the high school kids couldn't remember the sine and cosine formulas. Well, I told them, in both equations the hypotenuse is at the BOTTOM of the equation. Then I went on to describe how the hypotenuse sounds like hippopotamus. They laughed and started focusing on the explanation. Then I told them the story above about how she likes to slide down things. (I put her here in a bikini to help you visual that she's sliding down into a pool).
Then to help them find the side of a triangle that is the sin, I said compare it to a SIGN (sounds the same). A SIGN needs to be big enough for you to see it from a distance and straight across from you. Since, you are the angles, I told them, find the side of the triangle ACROSS from you and read the SIGN. They got it.
In this triangle, you can find the hypotenuse quickly. It is straight across from the right angle. To find the sin A , simply look across the "street" or triangle. That leg is BC. The hippos leg is AB. By putting the hippo (hypotenuse) at the bottom,
the sin A is BC or leg opposite angle A
I told the kids that cosine sounds like cousin. Most kids are attached to their cousins. So the cosine is the leg "attached" or adjacent to the angle. The cos A is AC. The formula reads
the cos A = AC or leg adjacent (attached)
This really seemed to help them. I hope it helps your visual learner too.