My kids love memorization. They have memorized poetry, scripture, even boring grammar lists, happily and without complaint. But math facts? They are a huge struggle. I often wondered if this discrepancy in ability to memorize was due to the subject matter – words & ideas vs numbers. If so, I must be afflicted with the same thing, as I have struggled my whole life with math and yet I can remember pretty much every word of The Cremation of Sam McGee though I haven’t read it in 20 years!
All this to say that I was pretty excited and hopeful when presented with the opportunity to review Times Tales, by The Trigger Memory Co. Why? Because Times Tales is a memory system that uses stories to memorize math facts, which sounds just about perfect for my word and story loving daughter!
Times Tales can be purchased as either a DVD or digital download. I received the digital download, which includes two mp4 videos of approximately 30 minutes duration, and printable files for flash cards, quizzes and a game. We got started right away!
The videos take you through the 6 steps of the program. The first video, Part One, covers approximately half of the upper multiplication tables, and Part Two covers the rest. Multiplication by 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10 are not covered by this program. Here are the steps:
1. Meeting the characters of the story. Each number is dressed up as a character, in this example, the number 8 is “Mrs. Snowman”.
2. Learning the stories. Each story contains two characters representing the numbers to be multiplied. In this example, the characters are “The Sixth Grade Class” representing the number 6, and a chair representing the number 4. The answer to the table is also found in each story.
3. Story Quiz. The video then goes through a little quiz to check for retention of the elements of the story (not the times tables).
4. You tell the story. Next, the student is given the opportunity to tell back the story.
5. Flash Cards with the character symbols. The video then goes through the flash cards of the multiplication tables WITH the character symbols.
6. Flash Cards without the character symbols. The final step is regular multiplication tables flash cards.
After going through the video just once, my oldest daughter got almost all the flash cards correct. I as amazed at how effective the system was, because she had barely even started to cover multiplication tables with her math program! She had only had a basic introduction to the concept of multiplication and the 0, 1, and 2 tables.
Even my husband was amazed that she had been able to retain something she had so little understanding of so very quickly, and he wanted to take a peek at the program to see what it was all about!
The quality of the video itself isn’t much to praise – the graphics and animation are very basic and not at all on par with the current media offerings, but the system’s success lies in it’s ability to create a mental connection with words and images. I wonder if the simplicity of the video is perhaps part of the reason it is so effective? Nothing too flashy, entertaining or distracting to take away from the mental connections being created? I personally found it very boring (and slightly annoying), but to my surprise, my kids just ate it up. Especially my 5 year old! She actually asked to watch it every day! She has only just begun a kindergarten math program, so I didn’t want to get ahead of myself or push her, but I wonder if I pursued it she just might be able to memorize her multiplication tables as well.
We have only viewed the Part Two video a handful of times, but it is more stories and characters in the same vein as Part One. It is recommended to wait at least one week before starting the second set of facts, but I have put it aside for now until our math program catches up with the multiplication tables we have learned with Times Tales. I am so pleased that we are really cruising through multiplication after having spend over double time on addition last year!