Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Times Tales Review

Math seems to be one of those subjects that you either love or hate; there is no middle ground. My oldest, for instance, is one who experiences both feelings depending on the day. If he understands the concept, he tells me how much he loves math. If he's learning something new that pushes him mentally, he's convinced math is the worst thing in the world. I remember that learning multiplication was like a teeter-totter of emotions for him. Love, hate, love, hate, love . . . I didn't want my daughter to struggle with the I-hate-this feeling, but wanted to give her a good foundation in her multiplication facts. The Trigger Memory Co. has made a way to do just that. And to make it fun? Now that's just a bonus. Times Tales has changed the way we teach math facts.

Times Tales is a fun, new way to learn the upper times tables. By transforming the numbers into cute characters and creating stories with them, the multiplication products are easily and quickly memorized.

This animated program is divided into 2 parts, about 30 minutes each. The first part consists of the upper 3s and 4s tables (each number multiplied by 6, 7, 8, and 9) and the second part teaches the upper 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s (again, each number multiplied by 6, 7, 8, 9).

1. Meet the Characters -- The first part the of video introduces the characters and the numbers they represent.  

  • Butterfly = 3
  • Chair = 4
  • Sixth Grade Class = 6
  • Mrs. Week (and Mr. Week) = 7
  • Mrs. Snowman (and Mr. Snowman) = 8
  • Treehouse = 9
2. Learn the Stories -- This is where stories are told and the math facts are taught. The multiplication problems are hidden in the simple stories.
3. Story Quiz -- The times tale are reiterated as the stories are reviewed. The students play beat the clock as they try to answer the questions before they show on the screen.

4. You're the Story Teller -- Pause the video, say the story, and then play the video again to see if they are correct. The program stresses that the stories must be said in the proper order, so there is no confusion as the facts are learned.
5. Practice Flashcards -- Part 5 teaches the students hidden multiplication problems using the characters in place of numbers. This helps the student to recall the story, and in turn, the answer.
6. Flashcards -- In the last portion, the times tables are drilled, but this time use typical flashcards with numbers, instead of characters. Students play beat the clock once again to give the answers.

I had intended to use this program with my (just-turned) 8-year-old daughter who had no previous experience with multiplication. Once the video started playing and the characters showed on the screen, one of her brothers joined her at the table. Before long, I had four children crowded around the computer, watching the Times Tales. After watching the first two parts of the program (Meet the Characters and Learn the Stories) one time, I heard the kids shout out the answers to the problems. After one time? Could it really work that well?

I looked over to see a snowman standing on a chair. It made no sense to me, but I heard my girl say enthusiastically, "32!" 
Mrs. Snowman (8) stood on a Chair (4) to reach her 3 buttons and 2 mittens.   

To me, it seemed confusing. Surely this story couldn't be easier than simply memorizing 8x4=32. Time and time again though (no pun intended, ha), my daughter gave the correct answer. She hesitated on some, but I was shocked to see how many she could answer on the first day.

Three PDF files are included with the videos. There is a file with printables that correspond to part 1, a file to accompany part 2, and a file with the answer key. The printables for both parts are similar in format and include a crossword puzzle; flashcards with the characters; flashcards with the numbers; division flashcards with a number and a character; division flashcards with numbers; a practice test;  a test; and buildable roll'em cube game. 

Not only did my daughter love watching the videos, she begged to do her papers, too. The printables are nothing fancy, just simple review pages to help retain the knowledge. I think she was so excited to complete them because she knew the answers and was proud of herself. The older kids and I played variations of the games with the cubes, like if we answered the question correctly, we got that many points added to our total. I also had her quiz against her big brother using the flashcards, and she even won a few rounds!

My oldest is still quicker with his multiplication facts, most of the time, but he did tell me, "I wish I had this when I was learning." The animated characters along with the stories have made learning the facts so easy.  My daughter can answer all the multiplication facts quickly now. She is even learning their division counterparts, though she does struggle with those a little. I enjoy hearing my little boys recite the tables, too, and I haven't reviewed them at all, just allowed them to watch the videos.

My daughter knows that I always ask for the kids' opinions when I'm writing my reviews. Before I even asked, she said to me, "If I have to tell you anything that I liked about it, it's the whole entire thing."

The best thing I can say about Times Tales is that it works, it works quickly, and the kids love it.

You can see for yourself how the program works with a free trial of the 9s family. You can connect with The Trigger Memory Co. on Facebook to learn more, too.

If you'd like to read more reviews of this product, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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