Learning multiplication facts can be a challenging academic milestone. With so many numbers to remember, it is no wonder that the process can be daunting and can take quite some time for children to master. Fortunately, there are resources and teaching strategies to help children recall facts more quickly while also having fun!
My children tried Times Tales to learn the multiplication facts and loved the program! Times Tales comes with a 60-minute animated DVD, a flip book filled with the illustrated stories from the DVD, and a CD with printable worksheets and flash cards. It comes with everything you need to learn the facts for 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, 7’s, 8’s, and 9’s. There also is a section on division with these same facts since the process goes hand in hand with multiplication.
How it works
Times Tales teaches the multiplication facts through the use of stories. The DVD is broken up into sections, guiding the children through the stories and review. First, we are introduced to the “characters.” Each character represents a number, and the picture of each character looks like the number. For example, Mrs. Snowman looks like the number 8. The 6th-grade class is represented by a picture of a student whose head looks like the number 6. This helps children make visual connections to remember the numbers and the stories they are a part of.
Once the child recognizes each character, he or she can proceed to learn the stories. The animation shows the characters interacting in a mini plot. For example, Mrs. Week (7) sat on a chair (4) and caught two boots and eight trout. This story is later revealed to represent 7 x 4 = 28. The DVD shows the stories first for the children to recall the narrative portion before putting them in a multiplication fact format. I like that Times Tales was set up this way because it felt more like listening to a story, and did not put pressure on the student to learn and recite fact families immediately.
There are points in the DVD where the narrator checks for understanding. This is a good way to see if your child needs to review the material more, or if it is fine to move on to the next section. The progression of the program was just right, and my kids did not feel pressured to answer quickly. It was also suggested to pause at certain points so the child can think about and say the answer before checking the answer. The narrator gently reminds us that the “answer is hiding in the story.” Again, it continues to refer to the stories, and not “memorizing numbers.” It is shown that people learn best when they make connections with bits of information and can tie it to context.
My children followed the progression of the material quite well. Each new section builds upon the prior concepts. Once a child is capable of retelling the stories, the DVD advances to displaying the characters in multiplication sentence form, while retaining the character’s animated image. Once that is mastered, then it transitions to their numeric form within multiplication sentences.
In addition to the DVD, a flip book and CD are included for review and reinforcement. The flip book contains all of the animated stories from the DVD. There are two sides to each page, where one side has the illustration and the words to the story. The back side is the image from the story without the words. This helps to check the child’s recollection of the stories.
“My husband and I both agree that we wished it was around when we were learning our multiplication facts in elementary school.”
My children liked flipping the book along with the DVD, to match the stories. They also enjoyed reading it together after the DVD was finished. The bonus CD has printable flash cards, activities, and practice tests. There are two sets of flash card numbers. One set is in the form of the characters. The other set has the multiplication facts using numbers.Times Tales does an excellent job of making sure to include both types to bridge the gap between the narrative portion and the fact families.
Although we did not get to it yet, the DVD and printables also include a section on division. Since multiplication and division are inverse operations, once a child has a good grasp of the story using multiplication, they can proceed to see what character is “missing” from the division problem. You can then use the skills that your children have already learned to teach the relationship between multiplication and division.
We LOVE Times Tales and recommend that all students try this program. My husband and I both agree that we wished it was around when we were learning our multiplication facts in elementary school. Times Tales is somuch more of an enjoyable and efficient way to master multiplication. It is flexible to be used with one child or multiple children and can be for all ages. Also, it can be easily implemented in homeschool and the classroom as an introduction to multiplication or as a supplement to the curriculum. I respect the fact that there was no set timeframe to complete each section, and that it can be implemented appropriately to your students’ needs. We were overall impressed with the quality of the program, included materials, ease of use, and effectiveness.
About the All-Star Blogger
Michele is a wife, homeschooling mommy of 3, and educator. When she’s not homeschooling and chasing the baby around the house, she likes to bake, read, and blog. You can find her blogging adventures at Fil-Am Teacher Mommy.