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Times Alive | Review

Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}
Times Alive is a series of "online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way."

The program teaches the memorization of multiplication facts through stories and songs. It is interactive and multisensory. Stories and songs have visual and audio clues, but the program also has kids using their fingers to learn number tricks.

Math facts are one of those things that just have to be committed to memory, so I thought this would be a fun, quick, and easy way to have my children practice the times tables for 20 minutes per day, twice a week. I thought the online aspect with games and quizzes would be motivating and fun for my children, Eliana (10) and Boaz (6).


 We were given 3 months access to a monthly subscription - online version to facilitate this review, but because most people complete this program in less than a month, our review period was shortened to 3 weeks. I share this because I would have loved to have one more week with this program before writing my review.

What you need to know to get started:

Since Times Alive is online based, you simply use any internet browser on your computer (we used Safari) and your internet connection. It is designed to be used on the same computer and internet browser with each use, but can be used with as many students as you like. But it can only be used on one computer at a time. Read the specifications to learn more.

A few tips: 

Progress Reports are stored in your cache, so be sure to use the same computer, the same internet browser, and the same login with each use, and don't clear your cache while using this program.

How we used Times Alive:

I sat with my kids throughout the use of this program, so I will share day by day how we used it.

Day 1

To log in, I simply entered my first student's name - Boaz. The first lesson was a pre-test that was timed and recorded on his progress chart.

The lessons start out easy with quips for children to remember basic concepts - like "Zero is king" so that's why anything times zero is zero, and "One is a mirror" so any number times one is itself as if it is looking into a mirror.

Then it jumps to 3x3=9 with a story about 3 blind mice with 3 tales each for 9 all together, and blind sounds like 9.  Boaz who is on the young end for this program, didn't really get the story behind 3x3=9 - it went right over his head. In fact, I think they all did until the very end of the program and then a light bulb went on. However, he loved that it was colorful and interactive, worked through 5 lessons in one sitting, and remembered a few facts.

His lesson list shows how far he progressed today:


Eliana logged in and started with the pre-test as well. She skipped any facts she didn't know - rather than skip counting or trying to figure them out.

She initially thought the program was easy and that some of it was too kiddish for her age (10).  I'm hopeful that even though she thinks it's too kiddish for her that she will benefit from the program doing 20 minutes a day, a minimum of twice a week which is what they recommend for usage.

Day 2

We did three lessons - 8, 9, and 10 which consisted of learning facts 6x4, 7x8, and 6x6, a review, and a progress check.

Here is her progress report for today:


During the review, we (even I) didn't remember the stories/songs from Day 1, so we had to go back and review by clicking on the lesson list and finding a particular lesson.

The Sliding Pictures Games are a visual picture of each story and proved to be helpful review. I think I'll have her do 6d and 10d - Sliding Pictures Games I and II as a review when we log in next before moving on to Lesson 11. Looking back, I realize the pictorial reviews are critical to learning the stories - the songs and stories alone were not enough. 

Day 3

After doing the Sliding Pictures Games I and II, Elli did lessons 11, 12, 13, and 14 which included learning the 5's, 6x3, 6x8, 3x7, and 7x4, a Progress Check, and then Sliding Pictures Game III.

Her progress report for today:



The stories are hard to remember, but the Sliding Pictures Game review is helping. 



Here is a screenshot of Sliding Pictures III:


These games really help to learn the stories. 

Bo has watched all the stories and songs up through lesson 15 by day 3, but he is not doing the progress checks or fact practice at this point - he's just having fun with it. He's learning some facts, but doesn't want to be tested on it - he thinks it's too hard.

Day 4

After doing Sliding Pictures I, II, and III, Eliana did Lesson 15 today - Nifty Nines and 7x6. She didn't get the nine's rule the first time, so I had her watch it again. Rather than a story and song, it's a trick to help you remember anything times 9. It's actually a pretty neat trick and once she understood it, the Nifty Nines were easy. Since we did the review and the nines rule twice, this took up our 20 minutes for today.

Her progress report for today:


The Sliding Picture review has been critical to learning the stories, but this is not something that is built into the program - I am having her go back to do them.

The stories are nonsensical, but we are starting to remember them!

Day 5

Today, Eliana did Lesson 16 and Progress Check IV.  She skipped the facts she didn't remember in 16d, so I helped her during the Progress Check by giving her story hints or by telling her the answer to see if she remembered the story. This helped, but I had her go back and do all the Sliding Picture Reviews again, and she said they are helping.

Her progress report today:


Bo has completed the program, but he has not mastered the times tables. I will need to sit in with him to do the Sliding Picture Reviews because I'd really love it if he would learn these facts now! He gets plenty of reinforcement by sitting in while Eliana reviews. He asks if it's his turn yet, so he is still interested. That's good!


Day 6

Eliana completed the program today by completing Lesson 17 and taking the Post-test.


Her final progress report:


While we did complete the program, I honestly would have to say that the program was not successful even with the additional review because my students did not learn all the times tables by heart by the end of the program. Eliana got 96% correct on her Post-test, but it took her 10 minutes to do it. If she knew them by heart, it wouldn't have taken her that long. I'm pretty sure she is skip counting when she doesn't know a fact or remember the story.

To see how long it would take me, I took the same test and scored 100% in 1 minute 37 seconds, and Malachi (almost 12) who also took the post test, completed it in 3 minutes. However, I think the program could work with some more time.

Here's my post-test:


Conclusion:

While I don't think the program worked as I expected it to, I do think the program has potential to work with more time. I also think it is critical to add in more review with the Sliding Pictures Games and plan to continue this until they either learn them or our 3-month subscription runs out. I'd love to be able to come back and say that it works!

Cost: 

Currently, a Time’s Alive monthly subscription is $9.95/month with a $6.95 set up fee.

See reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew to see what other homeschooler's thought of Times Alive!

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Update:
Week 4: We are still plugging away. Eliana's score has improved nicely over the past week. She is down to 3 minutes 42 seconds (from 10 minutes) on the post test. Boaz is improving greatly as well. I still think we need more practice for the facts to become automatic, but we will keep plugging away. 

4 comments

Rheea said...

Wow. This is a really comprehensive review! We've had similar experience, that it didn't quite work yet because my daughter couldn't remember the picture/number associations. But it just clicked in my head now that I should get her to practice the picture games more! Thanks.

Michelle said...

Thank you, Rheea :) I think with a little more time, it might stick - at least I hope it does! Thanks for stopping by!

Judy Liautaud said...

It looks like you all whizzed through the program with five lessons in one day. It works best when you go a lot slower. Only do one or at most two lessons per day to give the student time for the stories to settle in. Asking your child to recall the story they learned that day and the answer to the fact several times before they go on is a big help. Judy at City Creek Press.

Michelle said...

Yes, we did whiz through the first half of the program because we followed the recommended usage which was "...doing 20 minutes a day, or one session per day, a minimum of twice a week..." I interpreted this as an either 20 minutes a day OR one lesson a day. One twenty minute session included several lessons, so I felt we were following the recommended usage.

As my review reflected, we did slow down to one or two lessons to incorporate review and to really learn the stories. Letting the "stories settle in" is a great idea, but I still feel that review is necessary to learn the stories.

Furthermore, we had a shortened 3 week review period for this program per City Creek's request. We completed the program in six sessions over three weeks. I even mentioned that "I would have loved to have one more week with this program before writing my review," so perhaps a longer review period would have been more appropriate for this product. :)