Thursday, July 2, 2009

Skate x Skate


Multiplication tables (as well as most other math facts) have been a hard go for Buddy Boy. His third grade class started on the "8's" and "9's" back in March, and he still hadn't gotten them down by the end of the school year. Liz worked with him, his teachers tried various strategies, but nothing seemed to work. Every time Buddy Boy had a problem, he had to stop and sequentially add things, or if he was able to remember a rule, he would take minutes to painstakingly work through it step by step.

So near the end of school Liz went searching for a new approach, and as soon as school was out, she was ready with some workbooks. Two of the books were variations on regular math workbooks, but one of them was decidedly different. This one, "Memorize in Minutes: The Times Tables" looked rather silly, and I didn't hold out much hope for it.

The book has silly pictures (complete with silly stories for each one) to teach the times tables. The times table above is "8 x 8 = 64", and down below it says "skate x skate = sticky floor". The accompanying story describes how two skaters went skating and got stuck to a sticky floor, which was covered with a gooey, sticky, substance. Huh? How was a series of stories going to get Buddy Boy to remember his multiplication tables? Even if he did, I figured it wouldn't save him any time over what he was already doing.

It worked.

What couldn't be accomplished in months was virtually all memorized in a week. Buddy Boy and Liz worked their way through the "8's" and "9's" in a week, and are going back to some of the other numbers. Buddy Boy demonstrated his now fairly rapid firing off of various multiplication facts. It was truly amazing. What had before taken minutes now took about 2 seconds each. I was impressed.

So if you're having similar issues, this might be something you want to look at. The website's here. We paid for our book, and have no financial interest in this product. But I'm glad that someone thought "outside the box" on this one, and put this together.


Niksmom said...

That's *brilliant*! I may have to get a copy for *me*...seriously. To this day I cannot recall multiplication tabls I learned in grammar school. I am utterly lost without a calculator.

Nice job, mom and dad, thinking outside the box! Way to go, Buddy Boy!

mumkeepingsane said...

Brilliant, indeed! I just ordered a copy for my oldest son. He just finished Grade 3 and doesn't know any of his multiplication. This sounds exactly like how he learns. Thanks for the tip!

I'm also planning to use it myself. I still have to 'add quickly' for some of them. *sigh*

Club 166 said...

When I was in grammar school they just had us rote memorize them.

Buddy Boy's school introduces some alternative methods, such as "the nine rule", which I had never heard of before. Basically, to figure out what nine times anything is (up to 9 x 10) the "tens" spot is the number you're multiplying 9 by minus one, while the "ones" spot is 9 minus the "tens" spot number (both numbers add up to 9). So to figure out "9 x 8", the first number is (8 - 1 = 7), while the second number is (9 - 7 = 2), or 9 x 8 = 72.

That's a lot of figuring to get a quick fact, and while a good way to check your answer, didn't really work for Buddy Boy. I couldn't believe how quickly he picked up the facts using this book.

We figure there must be a lot of people out there that have similar ways of seeing this, otherwise they wouldn't be selling a book.


Maddy said...

Gosh that might be just the thing for us as we're still struggling with the basics around here too.

kathleen said...

Thank you Thank you...It sounds like something my boys would actually like...It also gives us something to do as it is STILL raining here..

Ange said...

bubba really struggles with math. Since homeschooling we have completely bagged any type of memorization (he can say 2x2 is 4 but has no idea what that means) and are going back to the beginning and just working on concepts. It's almost like back in preschool when you use a muffin tin and put in objects to show 'groups of' (multiplication) and physically adding and taking away objects...somewhere along the way Bubba lost the meaning behind numbers.

Danni said...

I've still to learn my multiplication tables- I've memorised some of the answers (5s, 10s, square numbers), and then I work out the others from there, adding and subtracting. It can be a little slower than if I'd learnt the multiplication tables, but in some ways I'm glad I do it that way as it means I go higher than 12x12=144 in my head :)

It's not so important for higher level maths in my experience, anyway.

Daisy said...

I like it! I might order this for my 4th grade class.
I've often wondered if the same kids who struggle to comprehend patterns in kindergarten and grade one also have trouble finding the patterns in math facts. If I ever have time for action research...