Saturday, December 13, 2008

Trigger Memory Systems: Times Tales

Trigger Memory Systems has a product called Times Tales. This is what their website says about it:

Times Tales is a creative, innovative mnemonic-based program that makes it fun and easy to memorize the upper multiplication facts. Times Tales uses cute, simple stories to provide students with a "memory peg", allowing them to quickly recall otherwise abstract facts.

And this is what it does: Covers the most difficult to memorize times tables: 3x6, 3x7, 3x8, 3x9, 4x6, 4x7, 4x8, 4x9, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 7x7, 7x8, 7x9, 8x8, 8x9, 9x9

My oldest is in Kindergarten. She has a fabulous memory and a wild imagination. She is currently doing addition and subtraction with sums and differences less than 20. Would this work with her? Could she actually learn her times tables? The product's developers think so. And so the experiment begins...

Day 1: My 5-year-old daughter and I sit down across from each other at the kitchen table. I have looked over the instruction manual about 15 minutes prior to get a feeling for how I'm supposed to conduct this learning session for Part 1 (the 3 and 4 upper times tables). I begin the first step: introducing the number symbols (the little pictures and characters), and we quickly move on to Step 2: reading and discussing the eight stories. Step 3 is where my daughter tells each story back to me, and then we're on to Step 4...the Trigger Memory flashcards. And finally Step 5 is regular flashcards. My daughter is giving me the correct answers to the 3 and 4 upper times tables, and it's been about 25 minutes since we started the session. I am not kidding!! It's been less than 30 minutes after we first sat down, and she can tell me that 4x9=36! She impresses Dad when he comes home from work this evening by going through the flashcards correctly with him.

The next week: I have not talked much about Times Tales since Day 1. I hand her a crossword puzzle. To solve it she has to remember details from the stories. She does well. I give her the practice test...perfect score!

The very next day: I complete Part 1 by finishing Step 6. She completes the final test with another perfect score! It has been just over one week since we first began Times Tales, and she knows her 3 and 4 upper times tables.

We repeated the same process with Part 2--the stories for 6, 7, 8, and 9. We got the same results in the same kind of time...correct answers to flashcards and perfect test scores!

My final verdict: I'm a believer! Times Tales works! No, my Kindergartner does not understand how to do multiplication, but I do believe that since she now knows the correct answers to the more difficult-to-memorize times table facts that multiplication will make more sense to her in less time when we do get around to learning about it. For children that are actually doing multiplication (2nd or 3rd grade?) this would be an excellent help! The stories are fun and easy to remember (just like they said they'd be!), and the program is non-consumable so I can use it with my other children (yay!). Times Tales is available from Trigger Memory Systems for $29.95 and comes with:
  • 2 Part Story Flipchart
  • Trigger Memory & Regular Flashcards (multiplication & division)
  • Roll 'Em Cube Game
  • Easy Instruction Manual
  • Memory Story Discussion Guide
  • Various Tests & Challenges

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