MATHer of Facts Multiplication Method

By Anne-Marie L. Denis
Building Better Learning Centre Inc.
www.4betterlearning.com

75 Copeland Creek Drive
RR#4 Penetanguishene, Ontario
L9M 2H7
705-549-6436

The Mather of Facts Multiplication Method is a mathematics program designed to aid in the learning of the multiplication tables by focusing on the factors, or answers, only. Students from grades 4 to 8 may learn their multiplication and division facts using this method, but it is equally applicable to special needs and gifted students, regardless of age. The program includes 8 CDs in a sturdy plastic case. Seven are audio CDs that progressively include the multiplication facts, while the first CD includes the complete CD workbook, which is printable on any PC. At the time of this review it is not Mac compatible. A computer for accessing the workbook instructions and printing various worksheets and Answer Guides, and either a computer or CD player for playing the music are necessary to use this method. The workbook covers the multiplication facts for numbers 2 through 12 and has more than 100 printable pages, including answer guides, drill sheets, worksheets, review sheets, and tests. The CD pages are divided into seven sections:

* twos and threes,
* fours and fives
* sixes
* sevens
* eights
* nines
* tens, elevens, and twelves

Each number has printable materials, including a bookmark-style answer guide. Rather than including number sentences with 1 x 3 = 3, 2 x 3 = 6, and so forth, the answer guides provide a list of the factors only (3, 6, 9, 12, etc.). The program focuses on the factoring method, also known as the count-by or answer-only methods, of learning multiplication facts. The audio CDs cover 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, and 12s, leaving the more easily learned 2s, 5s, 10s, and 11s out of the auditory songs. However, those numbers are covered in the overall program.

The CD-ROM also includes an Instruction sheet for each number. Instructions prompt the user to listen to the corresponding audio CD, which includes the song at a slow pace, at a faster pace, and without lyrics so that the user can eventually sing along with the song memorized. First, the student listens to the slow song while writing down the numbers on the drill sheet (which will need to be printed beforehand). Next, the student completes additional drill sheets while listening to the fast track and singing along. The third step is to print and complete the worksheets (four for each number along with review sheets). The parent/teacher guides the student in using fingers to count to the given answer when completing problems. To determine the answer for 3 x 4, the student holds up four fingers and sings the threes song to the fourth number, which is the answer for the problem. This method is easily converted to division problems with little effort once the process is explained and the factors are memorized. Answers are checked against the printable answer sheet included on the CD. The program is ideal for students struggling with multiplication tables, auditory learners, those who work well with musical tunes, and those learning math facts for the first time.

The instructions are very easy to follow, and our family had no problem learning to utilize finger counting to find answers. The music is familiar to most children beforehand. Song tunes include "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for threes, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" for fours, "Camptown Races" for sixes, "London Bridge Is Falling Down" for sevens, "Happy Birthday" for eights, the Wedding March for nines, and a big band song for twelves. Each answer guide has a picture "memory jogger" to help with recall (stars on the 3s CD, a bridge on the 7s CD, and so forth). We loved that the big band song was the final one in the program, as it was fun and upbeat and definitely implied a celebration. The bookmark Answer Guides are excellent; we chose to use them throughout our schooling, making them instantly available throughout the day for impromptu practice. If you do not have access to a printer, the drill sheets may also be done easily on any paper. Those with printer access may choose to print and laminate for repeated use with multiple students. Color abounds in the printable material without becoming overbearing; it enhances interest without causing distraction. Worksheet pages offer both horizontal and vertical presentation of problems. And we were thrilled to find that the answer sheets present multiple reduced pages on a single sheet, resulting in fewer pages to print.

Older children may find it odd to be singing a list of numbers in order to learn math facts, but with the included written work the program works beautifully. For older students struggling with multiplication tables, these songs--no matter how embarrassing to sing--will improve skills. The program is designed for grades 4-8, but it is certainly flexible beyond that range. Unfortunately, the cost will prohibit many families from purchasing this package, as it totals just under one hundred dollars with the shipping cost from Canada.

The MATHer of Facts Multiplication Program is like nothing our family has previously seen. It pares things down to the basics and provides real manipulation of numbers rather than rote memorization. We had all of our speaking children (including our three-year-old) listen to the program and share the experience. Amazingly, the three-year-old was very quickly and easily chanting off the factors for threes and fours, a skill that will come in handy as he gets older. Our nine-year-old had recently learned many of his multiplication facts using a different method, one that utilized fun and picture play with numbers. But we found he was still forgetting some or mixing them up if he was not reviewing the material periodically. MATHer of Facts provided a means for him to count out through problem areas when his memory failed him. We do wish the songs weren't quite so short and to the point. Perhaps repeating them twice in one track would have been better, but our three-year-old is proof that they work! Fun songs, a little copy work, and the use of handy fingers and a child's wonderful memory make the MATHer of Facts Multiplication Program an excellent choice for families struggling to master multiplication and division skills.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009