Monday, April 4, 2016

Times Tales {TOS Review}

Third grade is kind of the Year of Multiplication for most kids.  I'm tackling my first round of third grade as a homeschool parent, and we're in the throes of multiplication.  When an opportunity to review Times Tales from The Trigger Memory Co came up, I didn't want to pass it up.  I've heard so many great things about Times Tales after all.

Times Tales Review

Elliott picks up math fairly quickly, and he understands the concept of multiplication without issue.  He had most of his multiplication facts memorized, but there were still a couple of upper level times tables that eluded him.  Since our primary curriculum focuses almost solely on multiplication for an entire year, we were just finishing up single digit multiplication when this review came along.  I realized it was the perfect time to take a break and shake things up before moving on to multiple digit multiplication, so we could tackle the last third of our curriculum with confidence and speed.

What is Times Tales?
Times Tales is a video-based program that aids in the memorization of upper level multiplication problems.  It uses fun mnemonic stories, helping children recall their math facts more quickly.  The times tables that are covered include:

You will want to make sure your child has a conceptual understanding of multiplication before beginning Times Tales.  While it will help students memorize the facts, it does not teach how multiplication works or real life application.

How Does it Work?
I received the digital version of Times Tales (it is also available as a DVD) to facilitate this review.  The digital version includes five files to download.  The main component consists of two mp4 video files, as the program is separated into Part 1 and Part 2, and teaches approximately half the facts on each video.  There are two PDF files with activities that correspond to each video segment, and a PDF answer key.

We started with Part 1, obviously.  There is no teacher's guide or anything of that sort.  Just start the video; the instructions are in it.  Our host, Hannah, opens the segment with instructions for how to proceed, and how to know when we're ready to move on.  The videos take about 30 minutes each to complete, so make sure you have time to work through them.

Times Tales Review

Essentially, each number is represented by a character.  Each times table in story form, with these characters as part of a story, and each short story represents a times table.  By the end, students who can't remember abstract times tables can recall the stories, and thus the answers to the multiplication facts.

As you watch the video, there are places to stop and check your knowledge.  Everything is oral response only and based on the honor system--we're told not to move on until certain things are memorized, but since it is only a video and not an interactive computer program, you'll have to make sure your students aren't progressing before they are ready.

Times Tales Review

In the beginning, we were also told to wait at least one week between watching Part 1 and Part 2, but in the meantime, we could do the printable activities included to reinforce the facts.  So that's just what we did.  The activities include crossword puzzles, flash cards, cube games and tests.  As a bonus, corresponding division facts are included.  (They're also part of the videos, though less emphasis is placed on division.)  This means that as your child is focusing on multiplication, they can learn the corresponding division facts as well.

Times Tales Review

On Monday of Week 1 we watched Part 1.  The rest of the week we the activities.  The practice test uses the picture representation of the numbers from the videos, while the regular test just uses numerals.  He went from only missing two on the practice test (and one was a careless mistake where he left a digit off his answer while rushing through) to missing zero!  Since he was doing so well we moved on to Part 2 the next week, and followed the same method, with equally impressive results.  What was more impressive to me though, is the amount of time he spent on it was drastically lower than he would have spent two weeks prior to starting Times Tales.  He no longer had to spend the time starting with a fact he knew and "counting up" to the actual fact he was trying to answer, and the tests went by so quickly.  Honestly, I feel like this was an easier route to finally memorizing them than our mastery-based mathematics curriculum provided.

Times Tales Review

What Did We Think?
It worked!  The stories really did provide a "memory peg" as they call it, which helped him visualize the multiplication factors and product as we worked on them during the week.  Elliott only had a few random facts left to memorize when we started, so we just did the minimum two weeks with the program.  I don't know how long it would take for children who need to memorize more facts, but it is flexible and allows students to work at their own pace.

After the two weeks, we went back to our regular curriculum.  His recall of those obscure facts had definitely translated into his work!  Now that we're moving through multiple digit multiplication, he only has to focus on the process, not doing the calculations.

The only thing I wish was included were "worksheets" for the division facts.  It includes flashcards only.  Not that I can't find or create my own, but if they had them in the same format as the multiplication that would have been convenient.

I think this will work with most children.  It should appeal to a variety of learning styles, because it has audio, visual and kinesthetic components to it.  I don't have experience with learning disabilities, but their website suggests that it works just as well with children who have dyslexia and other learning considerations.  I really think this can be a good supplement for most children, no matter what curriculum they use, and after our experience, I would recommend it.

Times Tales Review

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1 comment:

  1. We loved Times Tales, too! I am very impressed. Mercie learned her facts and has retained them!