Thursday, February 9, 2017

Improving Recall of Multiplication Facts With Times Alive {A TOS Review}

Do you have a child (or children) who are struggling with their multiplication facts? If you are like me, you would like to see your child be able to recall these facts quickly, which is NOT what my girls were doing a month ago. A month ago would be before we had access to Times Alive, an online program from Times Tables the Fun Way.

I admit, prior to using Times Alive, the girls' education on multiplication was sporadic. They had the basic concept of what multiplication WAS, but could only recall the basic facts for the easier numbers, such as multiplying by 0, 1, and 2. In order to solve for harder facts, the girls would sit there adding on the fingers or on a piece of paper. I know it is imperative that children be able to recall these facts quickly in order to work out harder math problems, but I wasn't sure the best way to go about teaching this to the girls. As usual, the Homeschool Review Crew came to the rescue with these online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way.

Times Alive is a fun, online program that teaches children to recall their multiplication facts through the use of animated stories and songs, plus review of the facts learned. We received a 3-month subscription, which can be used by multiple students. For this review period, Tabitha (10 years old) and Amelia (8 years old) have been the primary users; however, Hannah (6 years old) tends to look on while they are watching their lessons. 

You will need a computer with internet access to use Times Alive. The system requirements are as follows:
  • 400 mhz or greater
  • 128 MB of RAM or greater
  • Video at 1024x768 or higher
You will also need speakers and a mouse, or other pointing device. 

Times Alive also works on an iPad, but you have to have a FLASH app to make it work, and it will NOT save your child's progress. In order for your child's progress to be saved when using the program on a computer, they will need to remember to click "Quit" at the end of each session and then log on on the same computer with the exact same user name for subsequent lessons. 

After we logged in with the email and password, we came to the following screen:

I have to admit, I got a kick out of the robot voice that stated, "This program is only for kids who want to have fun!" On subsequent days, the children were able to easily skip this little intro by hitting the green "NEXT" arrow. They are then required to log in by entering their name. As mentioned above, your child needs to make sure to use the exact same user name or the lessons will start over from the beginning.

After logging in, the "Times Alive Lesson List" screen appears.

From here the child just needs to click on the lesson they are up to. If your child is unsure of which lesson this is, all they have to do is click on the red "Student Progress Report" at the bottom of the screen. The progress report will come up and the child can see which lessons have been completed, plus scores received and time taken to finish tests. If a child redoes a lesson, only the last time will be recorded under the date column.

Times Alive consists of 18 lessons, each of which have 3-5 sections. At completion of the program, the child will have learned their multiplication facts for 0-9. 

The program begins with a Pre-test and concludes with a Post-test, with Progress Checks after every four lessons, plus additional tests throughout. These tests can be done online and will be timed, or you can choose to print them out for the child to complete. 

The main focus of this program are the cute stories and catchy songs that help to teach the children their multiplication facts. For each new fact, the children will first watch a short story that illustrates the fact in a fun, memorable way. For example:

At the end of the story, the narrator will remind the child of the fact while the picture is still on the screen. In this way the child has that fact connected to these fun visuals. Notice how the tails of the blind mice are shaped like the numbers needed for the multiplication fact: 3 x 3 = 9. 

The next section is the animated song which takes the information given in the story and turns it into a song. In the case of 3 x 3, the song is sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice. 

The child is then given a little quiz to see if they remember the fact just learned. They are asked to recall the characters in the story, and what happened to them, in an attempt to have the brain associate the story/song characters with the multiplication fact.

The child is to enter their answers in each box. They can move to the next box by pressing the TAB key or by clicking on the box with their mouse. They get immediate feedback. If they are correct, they receive a check mark and move on to the next screen. If they are incorrect, they will be encouraged to try again.

In the next step, the child just needs to type in the answer to the problem.

Again, they child will receive immediate feedback. Once the correct answer is entered, the child can click next to move on to the next lesson with a brand new multiplication fact.

Some of the facts are taught a bit differently. By this I mean they don't have little stories and songs. Children are taught little tricks for learning the 0, 1, 2, 5, and 9 times tables. 

In addition to the stories, songs and short review quizzes, children will also have the opportunity to complete some fun activities, such as coloring pages:

and "Sliding Pictures" reviews:

In the Sliding Pictures activities, the child is to choose the story that goes with the multiplication fact shown.

Then they need to enter the answer to the problem.

After all four pictures are reviewed, the child is then to solve all four problems.

The girls have been zinging through these lessons. Tabitha did the first four lessons the first day she logged on. Amelia has also been known to do four lessons at a time. Tabitha finished the program in just six sittings, while Amelia completed it in eight. They really enjoy watching the stories and listening to the songs. 

However, let me say, this is not the way the program is designed to be used. It is recommended to do one lesson a day (which should take about 20 minutes), twice a week. Because the girls seemed to be learning the facts, I allowed them to continue at the pace they were going. However, I think there was too much information crammed into Amelia's brain at a time. When she came to the post test, she struggled at remembering the facts. She does know more than she did at the beginning, but she still took a long time to complete the test. She went from taking almost 34 minutes to complete it, to taking almost 27. Yes, there was a bit of an improvement, but she doesn't have that quick recall. She still has to sit there working them out. 

Now, Tabitha's time improved from 28 minutes to 10 minutes. So, she has a definite improvement. She was also able to tell me that she was remembering the pictures and the songs, which helped her in her recall. Amelia didn't have the same results. 

So, as we have access to this program for 3 months, I am going to have them both go through the program again (which we can do by clearing the test results by using a password, or by using a different computer or a different user name). I will insist that the girls do one lesson a day, twice a week, of the facts they are still struggling with. If they would like to go over the lessons they know, I won't stop them, but I don't think it is necessary to have them re-watch the ones they have mastered. 

I will say, Times Alive has definitely helped the girls. I just think there is room for the girls to improve more.

This is definitely a fun way to learn the times tables and one I would recommend. I LOVE the creativity of the stories. There were times I was wondering where they were going with the storyline, but in the end, the story really made sense.

You can find Times Tables The Fun Way on Facebook.

Check out this YouTube video to learn more about Times Tables The Fun Way

Don't forget to check out what my fellow Crew Mates thought of the program by clicking on the banner below:

Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}
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