January 13, 2009

Lately for math time, my three oldest kids, 9, 7, and 5-years-old, sit around listening to stories like:

“A huge tree (three) decided it wanted to skate (eight). At the skating rink, he was having a grand ol’ time when the owner said he had to leave because he was so big and heavy he was leaving dents in the floor (denty floor = twenty four)”

We’ve finished the whole times table in 6 days or so, spending 10 – 20 minutes a day. Now we review the tables once or twice a week to help them get faster at with the facts.

What a fun way to learn math – listening and remembering silly stories. And unlike repeated boring numbers over and over, you’re a lot more likely to remember the denty floor and the big tree in skates.

Here’s the book: Memorize in Minutes : The Times Tables

And the teacher who wrote this book has a website, www.Multiplication.com with tons of great math ideas, games, and more. If you have a student struggling with multiplication, definitely give him a visit.

And to address the skeptics:

Two main objections to this method:

- It doesn’t teach math concepts or what multiplication actually means. You’re right. I teach that separately. This method is strictly an effective way to memorize a fact I want to know without having to calculate it.
- It takes too long – you have to translate numbers into ‘tree’ and ‘skate’, then remember the story, then translate ‘denty floor’ back into 24. Yes, it take a bit longer to start with, but your mind quickly learns and will eventually skip the whole story part and you’ll find the answer immediately jumps to mind. The more silly the story the easier you remember the facts with much less repetition. It’s fun, easy, and much faster.

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

I find this personification of numbers highly questionable & frankly I doubt the short time achievements reported here.

My lad of 9 is having difficulty learning x6 & x7 tables.

At the moment, I guess we spend about 20 minutes every day, but it’s tedious for both of us, & I doubt I could come up with the necessary stories to aid his memory. Heavens I can’t even remember the examples here after two minutes.

I suspect the rote learning methods used from Elizabethan times may be the best, perhaps the story reminders used where some individual table line just won’t stick in memory (example 7 x 9 = 63).

very nice .

very nice can be improved

the easiest way to learn tables I am so happy.oh it has imroved my daughters tsbles. story way of teaching is very nice.

the easiest way to learn tables I am so happy.oh it has imroved my daughters tsbles

the easiest way to learn tables I am so happy.

Dungeon game can come off a bit scary and violent for some kids especially with the background music that is used and the “bonking”(hitting) and shots fired by giant when player gets wrong answers.

There should be more dialogue for auditory reinforcement to go along with tactile clicking and visuals.

Probably should have more enticing reward system for correct answers and a running total of points (rewards earned or lost) after right and wrong answers. Use this to enhance competition and motivation.

Add some kind of running total of those with highest scores to help kids set goals based on high achievers of the game.

Needs a version that might appeal more to girls to improve a girl’s enjoyment of math.

Thanks Brian and Heather! I appreciate the great tips and suggestions.

Misty

This is the same approach as a book called Times Tales, which we used with great success with DS when he was 9.

In Times Tales, instead of words that sound similar to the number, the numbers themselves are personified in images… so, 7 is “Mrs Week” (because there are 7 days in a week) and she’s a big number 7, and she has various adventures… 8 is “Mrs Snowman”… The nice thing about this is that the same characters are used in each story.

9 is the treehouse (because the big number 9 looks like a tree). So, Mrs Snowman went to the Treehouse and and knocked 7 times on the 2 doors. 8×9=72.

Each story is one sentence. They reinforce with visual and aural cues, looking at just pictures and reciting the story from memory, then just reciting the story, then translating it to the math only after everything is memorized.

It literally took less than an hour to do the tables from 6-9. (At that time, it only did the upper tables because the lower ones are easier and don’t usually generate the same level of memory problems, but I think they include some lower ones now).

Anyway, a similar approach with some slight differences. I recommend the approach very highly – and like you said, AFTER they understand the concepts well and just need a little help with the final step of quick and easy recall.

I put up a video of How To Practice Multiplying by Two with Playing Cards on my blog recently. You might enjoy that way to teach simple multiplication, as well.

It’s a simple way to go beyond rhymes and nurture the relationship of numbers to each other. It might be a nice next step for a child.

Thanks for your interesting blog posts. I’ve just found you, and I’m sure I’ll be back.

Happy teaching!

Brian (a.k.a. Professor Homunculus at MathMojo.com )

LOL – Funny, but I still have to count to add 7 + 5, 7 + 6, 8 + 5, and 8 + 6 – and a couple of the 7s and 8s in multiplying take me an extra few seconds.

I guess what we learn (and don’t learn well) as a kid sticks with us.

Misty

I can remember crying over those stupid multiplication flash cards…

and STILL to this day have a hard time with the 7Xs and the 8Xs…

*sigh*

This looks like much more fun!

One of the most useful skills is to memorise the times table, I use it every day. Hard to convince my 9 year old, LOL. Will have a look at the book, thanks for the link.