As a child, I remember doing so well in school until I hit Fourth Grade. As far as math goes, I bombed badly. It all started because I couldn’t memorize the multiplication tables. I always had a good memory for anything, but numbers. Being learning disabled, I tended to flip numbers even in remembering them. It was frustrating and humiliating for me. They did grouping back then with the smart kids in “A” group. I was in “A” group until I couldn’t get those tables learned. Down I went to “B” group. My self-esteem went to nothing. I struggled for two years to get back into “A” group. If only they had had Times Tales by Trigger Memory back then. It would have been a different story I am sure.

The idea is so simple, but almost ingenious. The creator made characters from the letter shapes such as children from the 6 and a tree house from the 9. Then stories were created using those characters where the numbers needed for the equation and the answer are built in to the story. You wind up with a mental and verbal picture of the multiplication problem. The characters in the story give you the equation and the numbers in the story combine in some way to give you the answer. For example, butterflies represent 3’s, and Mrs. Snowman represents 8 (two snowballs on top of each other looks like an 8. How cute is that?). The story tells you that after Mrs. Snowman melted, two butterflies flew away with her arms and four took her apron. Your equation is 8 times 3. You put two and four together to come up with the answer to the equation, 24. Everything you need is easily seen in the story without having to calculate. Instead of memorizing equations, you are just familiarizing yourself with the story. You don’t memorize or calculate; you just visualize the equation and answer from the story.

I have used this program for years with my children and students in my school. Regardless of age, I always require frequent review of the multiplication tables and other math facts. Without a good foundation in these facts, students do not do well in Algebra or other higher level math because they are too slow in calculation or make too many errors. It doesn’t matter if they understand the concepts. I have several students in college today who will tell you that they still know their times tables well. One student told me recently when I emailed him about this review, “Mrs. Renee’, it seems silly to say, but I still see Mrs. Snowman, the tree house, and all the other characters in my mind; and the story jumps into my mind along with the answer without hesitation.” I call that success.

I have used the program with my regular students, gifted students, learning disabled students, autistic students, and mildly mentally handicapped students. I have not had a child in the last several years of use not succeed with this program. I even use it with all of my teen-agers. I downplay the cuteness of the story some as even the creators suggest, but I also explain to them how and why it works. That usually helps them to handle the silliness just fine. No longer is the drudgery of memorization a must. The multiplication tables can be learned and retained in just a couple of weeks. After that, we periodically review the stories just to make sure they can continue to remember them with great speed when needed. The program manual provides flash cards, full instructional steps, memory games, story discussion guide, worksheets, and assessment sheets. Many of these aides are newer than what I received years ago when I purchased several sets. I never needed the additional aides though, but I am sure they will make the program even easier to use. The only thing I will say that I liked better about the original sets that I still use is that the flash cards were on light-weight card stock while the newer ones are on glossy, laminated paper. I am not as sure the glossy paper ones would have lasted as long through the numerous children with whom I have used my sets. The new flip charts are much better, though. They have wire notebook rings rather than the plastic combs of my earlier sets. Many of my flip charts are no longer held by the plastic combs because they broke fairly easy. Just goes to show that some changes are good ones while others aren’t so good.

Now one last thing I want to share with you. I received something new with this review set that Trigger Memory also sells. The have flip charts made with high gloss, heavy stock pages for different cleaning chores around the house. I fell in love with these. My children are grown and gone, but I found chores in the classrooms which are still in my house that my students can do to help me clean, so I can focus on teaching them. These flip charts are organized in a way that children not only remember what to do, but the charts also teach them step by step how to do a good job. There is one called Zone Cleaning that teaches the steps for cleaning areas such as the living area, kitchen area, and bathroom area. Every step is covered, and there are places where the parent can write in extra jobs that are more specific for their home. Another is called Bedroom Cleaning which covers all the steps with neat tips for organizing needed to pick up and clean up the bedroom. The laundry basket way to picking up, sorting, and returning items to their places is one of the best ideas I have seen for teaching children how to put away their toys, clothes, books, dirty dishes (you know they are in that room, Mom), etc.  in the proper places. The third flip chart is called Laundry for Kids. This one gives you step by step to sorting clothes, operating the washer and dryer, folding clothes, and putting them away. Of course, the parent decides when the child is old enough to check the box for operating the washer and dryer. Check boxes are provided by each step. The parent only checks those steps which are within the child’s ability to complete safely. These flip charts are sure to make chores easier to teach and make the home life of the busy homeschooler so much better. These flips charts make you want to say, “Why didn’t I think of this?”

The Times Tales set is $29.95 and the Clean’N’Flip charts are $7.95 each or $29.95 for all three. Check it out at www.triggermemorysystem.com.

Advertisements