HappyMath Multiplication Kit

By Gail Bernard
Reinhard-Bernard Enterprises
www.happymath.com

158 Millers Lane
Kingston, NY 12401
800-961-4277

I remember working through stacks of flashcards to learn the multiplication tables. To put it mildly, the process was a bit, shall we say, tedious! My oldest son hated math for the first few years of homeschooling because so much of early math is memorization--memorizing the addition and subtraction tables, then the multiplication tables. I tried many different things to make it fun, but he didn't really start to like math until he got past the memorization and was ready to start figuring things out with numbers. HappyMath Multiplication Kit (\$59.95) was developed to help students learn the multiplication tables through the use of pictures, stories, songs, and rhymes. The kit comes in a sturdy case and includes Multiplication Cards, an Instruction Manual, an audio CD, Practice Cards, a Matching Game, a Matching Game Time Card, and an erasable pen.

The 20-page Instruction Manual presents the basics for using the HappyMath Multiplication Kit. The Multiplication Cards show the math problem, such as 4 x 9, with a picture and rhyme to help remember the answer. In this case, there are four bunches of nine sticks each with the phrase "pick up sticks," which sounds like the answer, 36. The card for 7 x 9 has a picture of a tree with seven mice and the phrase "mice in a tree," which sounds like the answer, 63. After previewing the cards and the stories (found in the Instruction Manual) for a particular section, the student listens to that section on the audio CD. The catchy songs use a variety of instruments with a female singer and several children's voices to put the multiplication rhymes to music. After the student reviews the song and cards several times, he or she can use the Picture Catch Review, which is verbal practice of the section, or the Matching Game, which matches small cards with the problems to their answers. Practice Cards are also included, which consist of several cards with problems for each section that are inserted into a clear sleeve. The student can write the answers on the sleeve and erase them after completion of the exercise.

Learning is generally enhanced by involving several of the senses. For example, a student who reads about a scientific concept and then conducts hands-on experiments to test the theory will usually remember the material much better than a student who merely reads the text. I think this is one of strengths of HappyMath, as it uses sight, hearing and movement to enhance learning. The other strength is the use of rhymes, presented in several different ways, to facilitate rote learning. The engaging pictures would likely speed up the learning process and improve long-term retention. Because the material is presented in a fun, creative manner, with several different types of activities, students would be more engaged and remember the information longer. If you have a student who is ready to learn the multiplication tables, I recommend trying HappyMath!

Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2011