My oldest daughter loves stories. Anytime the words “once upon a time” or “I remember when I was 10 years old” come out of my mouth, she is right there hanging on my every word. My oldest daughter also hates anything that looks like a boring piece of paper or a long list to memorize.
So when she came to the point in her math where learning the multiplication tables was the next logical step, I figured I needed to come up with a way to make them seem interesting. Initially, I thought I might make up stories that would help her remember each multiplication fact. But the task seemed daunting. There was no way I had time to do that!
Then I found http://www.multiplication.com. Someone had already done all the hard work of writing a story to learn each multiplication fact. And they had drawn pictures to match the stories. And they had recorded someone reading each short story and put it online for free. I felt like Christmas had come early!
The basic premise is simple. Each number in a multiplication problem is given a “name” that sounds similar–three is “tree” and nine is “sign.” Then the short stories are written using these similar names, and the answer to the problem is also assigned a word or set of words–twenty-seven is “denty chef’s van.” The picture supports the story.
My daughter listened to the stories online over the period of a couple of weeks. She loved it because she got to be on the computer, and she got to listen to silly stories. After she listened to a number set (i.e., the “sixes”), I would quiz her on the problems. She would mumble bits of the story and then proudly exclaim the right answer. She liked the whole idea so much, she even re-drew many of the stories herself to make her own multiplication story book.
On the website, you can also purchase the book Memorize in Minutes: The Times Tables that has all the stories and pictures, along with flashcards that you can make. I did finally break down and buy the book because some of my other kids will have fun coloring the pictures as they learn and will benefit from having a book in their hands that we can read on the couch. At the beginning of the book, there’s also a fabulous list of games and activities you can do to review the multiplication facts. This alone is a great resource since many of the ideas can be re-purposed and used for any kind of fact review–not just multiplication. (Some of these games are listed on the website, as well.)
I’m actually really looking forward to doing the multiplication facts with my son, who’s the next in line to learn them. This time around, I think we’ll act out the stories, make another book, and play even more games with the facts. At our house, it seems that the kids who learns the multiplication tables really do live “happily ever after.”
[The navigation on the site can be a little tricky. Once you’re there, scroll down until you see the number sets in the left-hand column. Clicking on a number set will let you choose a specific problem. Once you’ve clicked on a problem, scroll down a little further until you see the box that says “Picture & Story” with the play arrow.]
As with all the resources that I talk about, I will disclose any compensation I receive for reviewing something. Otherwise, it’s just me talking about things that we like in our home.