Product Review: Times Alive! (The Fun Way to Learn Multiplication)
Memorizing the multiplication facts is one of the math “milestones” to meet in elementary school. When I was a fourth grader, I remember spending time each day reciting my facts, looking at flash cards, all in preparation for our timed multiplication quizzes on Fridays. Although I mastered my facts, I do not recall enjoying the process necessarily. This past month, my children and I learned about Times Tables the Fun Way!, a program that makes
multiplication more enjoyable. City Creek Press offers books, software, online programs, movies, and classroom kits to teach multiplication. We had the privilege to review Times Alive! which includes online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way.
The Layout of the Program
Times Alive! uses pictures, stories, and songs as the primary method to teach multiplication facts from zero to nine. The program is based on the book first written in 1992, “TimesTables the Fun Way.” There is an online version and also software for Times Alive! They are the same exact program, but one is accessed online and the software would be accessible by inserting a disk into the computer.
Upon logging into the student’s account, there will be a list of the lessons by the multiplication fact. It is clearly laid out going in numerical order. A clear legend also depicts what type of activity is available in the lesson. The activities include movies, songs, painting, quizzes, and tests. With their distinct “Times Tables the Fun Way Method,” each lesson includes a story and a song to help the learners pick up on the facts in a contextual manner. The program’s components make the process of learning very engaging. It also targets multiple learning modalities to reinforce the concepts.
Times Tables the Fun Way: The Method
My first grader and Transitional Kindergartener love stories and are inclined to music, so although they are generally a little young to learn multiplication, they were able to pick up many of the facts because of the amusing stories and catchy tunes from the program. The use of transforming the numbers into characters within a story help with visualization and association of the multiplication facts.
Here is a screenshot of the story for 6 x 6 = 36. It is about two “thirsty sixes” (36) who went through the desert.
You can watch a sample of the song here as well to see for yourself, how neat this program is.
As you can see, visualizing the numbers as characters in an entertaining story, make the process of memorization so much easier and quite frankly, more memorable. It almost does not feel like memorizing because you are listening to a fun story and a song. It takes more effort for the brain to repeat “6 x 6 = 36…. 6 x 6 = 36… and so on” because there is no context for your mind to attach this fact. Using visualization and association are one of the most powerful methods to remembering things. When going through the program, I never once mentioned “memorize” to my kids. However, when asking them about the story of the thirsty 6’s, they were able to talk to me about the story, sing the song, and tell me the fact. Learning happened in a minimal stress environment. My children even requested to hear the stories and listen to the songs repeatedly because they were having such a good time.
Additional Fun Activities:
In addition to the stories and movies to teach the facts, there are also interactive activities like “Sliding Pictures,” “Guessing Game,” and “Painting” to reinforce the facts that were learned in the lesson. Below are screenshots of some of the included activities. They use the same visuals of the characters to continue reinforcing the multiplication fact.
Times Alive! not only provides lessons but also tracks your student’s progress. There is a pre-test, quizzes along the way, and tests to assess your student’s learning. The questions can be answered directly on the computer and can be retaken as necessary. A Progress Report is also available to see their overall performance. That way you can help your child or student to review unmastered facts or to move forward to the next lesson.
Although I know my multiplication facts, I enjoyed going through the lessons with my two daughters and was amused by the stories as well. Being that they are working on addition primarily now, we went through the program “lightly” for one month so far and even then my eldest was able to learn quite a few of the multiplication facts. We will definitely continue to implement this in our future curriculum plans, due to its proven effectiveness. Depending on how much time is invested in learning and reviewing, the results will vary with how long the overall program will take for each student.
To learn more about Times Alive! and other educational math products offered, you can: