Monday, January 31, 2011

Times Alive - A Review

Product: Times Alive Multiplication CD Rom

Price: $44.95

Company: City Creek Press

Other Products Available: Addition and Multiplication Products and Kits
(Times Alive is half-price when added to a kit.)

Age Range: I would suggest 1st - 4th grade

To Purchase:
Windows PC
Apple MacIntosh

Brief Intro:
This new program makes learning multiplication facts more fun than ever. It is based on the Times Tables the Fun Way Book for Kids and teaches the zero's through the nine times tables.

6 X 6 = 36 Sample Video on YouTube.

In-Depth Look:

Times Alive uses movie clips, songs, paint, quizzes, and tests to teach the multiplication tables. Watch the clip above on YouTube to get a good feeling for what the program looks like.

Some come easy like the 0's and 1's. Some have little tips like the 9's. Some just flow like 6 x 8 is 48. Or 6 x 6 is 36. But for others, well, there are no tips or quick tricks. They just take time to remember.

Times Alive attempts to tackle them all. I have mixed reviews about the product.

I think that it will reinforce some stead-fast, simple facts for younger children. Through song and movie clips, young children will see the fact played out enough that it should stick pretty quickly. Anything times 0 =0. Anything times 1 = the original number. After seeing it played out a few times, it will make sense and stick.

It will also help with those facts that flow easily. As in the clip above. Two 6's make for some Thirsty Sixes. 6 x 6 = 36.

The quizzes, while not meant to entertain, will help with practice and drill reinforcement. And it saves paper, since your child can enter the answers on the screen.

But some of the riddles just seem way too far-fetched to me. It doesn't flow. It doesn't rhyme. And it would involve several steps in your mind to work through it and recall the riddle, in my opinion, than to just learn the fact to begin with. Here is an example.
3 is a bat. 8 is the opening in a cave. The bat (3) flies into the cave opening (8). It finds a snake (2) sitting on a throne(4). So you have to envision a 3 as a bat. An 8 as an opening in a cave. Then remember that the answer is a snake on a throne, which represents a (2) and a (4) for (24). For me, that is just too much work. I would rather just learn the 3 x 8 = 24.

Also there is no constant. If the (8) was always a cave opening no matter if the song was about 8x3 or 8x7, it might be easier to keep the connections going. But that isn't the case. The (8) isn't a cave in the other cartoon clips. So when you see an (8), there is no quick reference point.

The program keeps a checklist of lessons. At a glance, a parent/teacher can see which videos have been viewed and which quizzes/tests have been completed. The tests can be cleared out, in order to take the test again.

So, like I said . . . I have mixed feelings about the program. I think it will be very helpful for young children who have not yet mastered the easier ones.
The 0's, 1's, the trick of the 9's, etc. And I think the worksheets are good for drill, although my children felt they were long for the intended purpose. My 8 year old enjoyed the explanation of the 9's and understands it better now.

But for the harder ones, like the 7's or the 8's, I think good ole drills might be the better solution.

I think the success of the program would be very dependent on how much your children enjoy the songs. My 12 and 8 year old daughters never really got into the songs. But I have heard of others who really enjoyed the songs and would even sing them when not watching the program. So for them, it seems to be sticking. I guess it depends some on age and learning style. That is why it is so neat that the website has a TRY IT feature. Let your kids use it for a while and see how it goes. It might just be that it is the perfect fit for them. :)

Other reviews, check here.

Disclaimer: I received Times Alive free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

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