We recently had the opportunity to try Times Alive, by Times Tables the Fun Way, which offers online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way. Now that we've had a few weeks to use it, I would like to share our review with you! I believe that it's helpful to provide my kids many different ways of looking at math topics and I'm always seeking a diverse set of tools with which to teach my children. In line with this goal, Times Alive provided a creative way to learn the times tables beyond rote flash card repetition.
About Times Tables the Fun Way & Times Alive
From City Creek Press, Times Tables the Fun Way uses illustrations and stories from Judy Liautaud that create mental imagery, helping to anchor each math fact (zeros through nines) to memory.
Times Alive is one of multiple product offerings from this company. We received access to the online version which requires an internet connection and is not a download, but they also offer a software option as well. Our version included animated stories, silly songs, simple sliding picture games, online coloring pages, basic quizzes (referred to as guessing games), and progress checks. There is also a pretest and post-test at the beginning and end and test results are saved and shown in the student's progress report. There are 18 lessons, each broken down further into 3-5 sections/activities. The quizzes are short and rather quick. In order to get the most out of the program, they recommend having your child use Times Alive for at least 20 minutes a day (or about one session per day), a minimum of twice a week.
I had both Big Sis (9) and Lil' Sis (6) use Times Alive (the online version). Big Sis already knows all the multiplication facts to some degree, but there are some that she is faster at recalling than others and she does have to skip count to answer some of the harder ones, so our goal for her was to improve on the weaker facts and speed of recall on all facts. Lil' Sis had not attempted to memorize any of the times tables prior to using this program, so it was a completely new introduction for her.
We are starting to get into more of a routine with Baby Sis in the picture, enabling us to do less electronic, online, and self-guided work, but I'm still relying a bit on these forms of learning in some subjects, so Times Alive fit right into our school days quite well. Plus, we were able to access it while doing a bit of traveling without having to bring along heavy books or bulky flashcards in our suitcase, so that was a huge plus too!
Though the recommendation is to do a lesson about twice a week, my kids usually like to fully immerse themselves in conquering a memorization-based program or challenge such as this, so once they get started they often blast through fairly quickly. Indeed, that's what they did this time. However, in doing so, I noticed that though they were entertained and enjoyed the stories and songs, they didn't always fully focus and thus we needed to restart or redo many of the lessons a few times. In order to get the most, and fastest, benefit, I think it's important that the child not only watches the animated stories, but really attempts to recreate the story in their own mind as they go along.
What my girls think about Times Alive:
Big Sis says: "I liked it. They present the math fact in more than one way. First they make it into a story using pictures where the numbers are turned into characters or objects in the story. Then they help you remember your times tables more when they put it into a song."
Lil' Sis says: "It was very fun because they did songs for every one of the lessons. I liked the songs because they were new, they rhymed a little bit, and it went fast but they repeated things to help me remember. I like the pictures too."
What I think about Times Alive:
Overall, I think it's a great concept that has cute animation. The premise behind it of using visual memory anchors in the form of a silly story is an effective way to memorize in a more enjoyable way. The audio and visual presentation of the program is average quality - nothing fancy or high tech. I particularly liked that the story was presented using more than one learning style - hearing the story read, watching the animated story, and reading it - all at once.
I would like to be able to see the specific questions my child got wrong on the online pre- and post-tests and quizzes, rather than just the percentage score at the end. However, a work around for this is to print the blank test (which is an option) and then have the child do it that way versus on the computer so you can see each of their answers. Additionally, the tests and quizzes do not seem to change - they appear to always be the same questions in the same order. So if your child repeats the program (if they don't get it all the first time through), they might start to remember the order of the answers. If this occurs, there are some online math fact quizzes and worksheet generators that could be used instead.
The program was most useful for Lil' Sis, who did, indeed learn most of the math facts using it. She did, however, have to repeat the lessons a few times before getting it and it does still take some time for her to recall the answer.
Times Alive is, indeed, a fun and creative way to learn and review the times tables.
Both of my girls enjoyed Times Alive and it's times tables stories. Though there were aspects of the program that were not ideal for my preferences, they were all minor things. I think the program is certainly a supplement option to consider for those seeking a program to introduce or reinforce these important multiplication facts. It was useful and beneficial for us insomuch as it provided another way to cement the facts in the minds of my children, giving them even more exposure (which is always good), and doing so in a manner that was fun for them.
If you'd like to know more about what others think of the Times Alive program, you can check out lots of other reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew (see the banner below). Or for more information direct from the company, you can visit their website or find them on Facebook and YouTube.
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.