Thursday, August 30, 2012

Viva at Five

Viva at five is like Viva at four, but we are getting to know her better. She's a private girl, but since we live with her we can ferret out her secrets!

Viva loves to collect flowers, weeds, and leaves. She's very observant.

Viva is adventurous. She is usually willing to try new foods, new activities, and new places. She's a good shopping buddy.

Viva enjoys her own company. She's quiet a lot of the time. You can't usually track her by ear.

Viva is tactile. She likes to get her hands dirty, wet, and sticky. She likes paint, tape, stencils, and clay. She's a three dimensional artist.

Viva needs a private space to deal with her emotions when she's upset. She doesn’t like being comforted or cajoled when she's angry.

Viva gives the best hugs, but she's a little stingy with them.

Viva likes to learn through doing. She prefers to give new skills a try on her own first and then, if needed, ask for help. She's not afraid of failure or second attempts.

Viva is very bright. She won't always share what she's thinking, but when she does it's impressive. 

Viva glares better than anyone I know. Don't annoy her or she will give you The Viva Glare. It's scary.

Viva is loyal. Don't mess with her twin Jake or she will pound on you. (Just ask Bentley!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jake at Five

I started this post two months ago for Jake's birthday. I struggled with it because I couldn't come up with anything new to tell you about Jake. Jake at five is a lot like Jake at four. That's really not surprising. Why did I struggle so much? He's still our Jake and that's great!

Jake is adorable. When he likes you, he's very hard to resist.

Jake can be a snarly bear sometimes, but most of the time he is sweet as honey and cuddly as a teddy bear.

Jake is very smart. He learns new skills quickly. He keeps close tabs on what Bentley does and he works to keep up.

Jake needs attention. He wants his peeps to listen to him, to focus on him.

Jake is affectionate. He likes to give hugs. He likes to receive back rubs and leg rubs and head rubs. 

Jake is loud. Not all the time, but when he decides to turn it on, it's high volume.

Jake loves to build with Legos and has many projects going simultaneously. Legos top his Santa List. (He's started one already!)

Jake is easily upset. If the problem isn't taken care of quickly, it can escalate into an explosion of sound, tears, and sometimes even fists.

Jake is relentless. When he focuses on a topic or question, he doesn't let up until he gets his answer. 

Jake likes to smile and has an infectious grin. You want to smile back. He's my ray of sunshine.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Humor, by Jake

Jake is a funny little guy.  He made this birthday card for his buddy Patrick's birthday, and then he laughed hysterically while reading it to me.

I'll translate for you.

Happy Dad Day Happy Frog Day Happy Viva Day Happy Jake Day Happy Cow Day Happy Popcorn Day Happy Halloween Day Happy Yucky Day Happy Sad Day Happy Sat Day Happy Cat Day Happy Kiss Day Happy Birthday

I told him that it was beautiful.  And that maybe next time he could work on not wrapping his words from line to line... :)

P.S. - a disclaimer.  We think his handwriting is charming.  Quaint.  Etc!  He hasn't begun his formal handwriting program yet (oops, bad Mom...) but I"m sure we'll have him whipped into pretty cursive script in short order.  With letters all going the right directions and all that jazz!  But for now?  We'll let him be just turned 5.  It looks pretty cute!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Rainy Lego Afternoon

Kara got a great deal on Legos at Wal-Mart's after Christmas toy sale. She gave Bentley and Jake a couple of the sets for their birthday and left the other sets hidden for a rainy day. This past week we had such a day and so I dug one of the sets out of hiding and gave it to the children. It was a Ninjago set and they were thrilled with it and quickly put it together. They are awesomely fast at piecing Legos. They took turns, but I heard Viva complaining that she didn't get to do very much of it. She came to the table late and didn't stick around the entire time. She's a bit of a butterfly.

After completing it they played with it for the next few days. I was surprised how often I saw Viva in the dining room playing with it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blueberry Boy

Lincoln loves blueberries. He will eat as many as you will give him. One time when I changed his diaper his butt was blue. I kid you not; his behind was dyed blue by the blueberries.

He likes nectarines. (He does not like peaches.)

He likes corn on the cob and bell peppers.  (This is a post on fruit, but I had a cute photo, so...)

He likes raspberries, although not nearly as much as blueberries. He does not like strawberries. He likes bananas, grapes, and melon.

The twins like almost all fruits. Bentley will only eat grapes, room temperature strawberries, apple slices with peanut butter on them, and mandarin oranges.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Outside Fun

August has been a good month weather-wise which it typically is not. A lot of days start out cloudy, but then become sunny. A few days start out sunny and then go cloudy. The point is most days we have some sun.

One afternoon I hauled the pool out, but there was a wind that made it too cold after just a short time. We have a fair amount of wind in August, so I'm not sure we'll be setting the pool up again this year unless we have a freak super hot spell.

Basketball continues to be a big hit. All the children play with the hoops and balls.

Lincoln loves to go outside. He escapes anytime he can wiggle out when someone (namely Viva) isn't fast enough closing the front door. He can be surprisingly quick and he knows exactly what he wants.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Opa with His Grandkids

Sharp looking group, right?!  On their way off to church this past Sunday.  :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Daddy's Birthday

Cute kids, decorating wrapping paper for one of Daddy's presents:

As you get older birthdays get a little less exciting (or, at least, that's how it seems to me... !).  That is only true, however, until you have kids old enough to get excited about your birthday for you!

And we have 3 of them.  I'm not sure Lincoln was totally hyped about the birthday, so I'm not counting him in that total.  

For weeks the kids have been discussing their Father's birthday.  Making cards, talking about what presents we should get him, counting down the days, counting down the hours.... they were super excited about this big day!  Bentley woke up at 6 something in the morning to come wish his Father a happy birthday.  Unfortunately for him (and for Matt), Daddy had already headed off to work due to an early early conference call and a full day of meetings.  We caught him on the phone though so it all worked out.

Anyway.  Needless to say I too was very excited when today finally arrived.  In part, I'll admit it, due to the fact that I wouldn't be hearing about it anymore!  And we wouldn't have to keep hushing Jake and Viva when they were overcome with the desire to share with their Father about his presents.  Before his birthday.  :)

(Lincoln was already in bed after eating huge amounts of cake when this picture was taken, we didn't forget him!!)

Happy happy Birthday to you Matt!  Legos, clothes, books, music... and manically excited children that love you to pieces.  What more could a guy want?!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Math Maniac

In anticipation of baby #5s arrival this fall I purchased a fun/somewhat less teacher intensive, than our norm, math curriculum to get Bentley through the fall while it's crazy around here.  It's a bit more self taught, so I figured it would be a good approach.

We're using a program called Teaching Textbooks, and being the frugal type I decided to just get PART of the program - the workbook.  You can also get an interactive CD program that self grades (among other features I didn't fully understand at the time of ordering, oops...!), but I figured that if I couldn't handle grading a 3rd grade math sheet in 30 seconds than we have serious problems around here.  :)

Fast forward to now.  After finally getting sprung from my unexpected hospital visit Bentley and I decided to get started with our new Teaching Textbooks Math 3 book.  It's pretty simple stuff, but it has enough new thrown in there that I wasn't certain we should jump straight to 4.  But, since it's not that hard, we do 2 lessons some days.  This was working okay, but I was getting the impression that maybe all of the material wasn't being internalized.  Thus further research and the oops moment when I realized there was more to the CD experience than I'd thought at first.

SO.  I backed off of the cheap approach and ordered the CDs so he can do the whole interactive on the computer experience.  The CDs arrived today and I set it all up.   I called Bentley up to my lair, and gave him the quick run down on how to go through the tutorials and problems in the program.

He finished his lesson for the day, and I was curious what he thought.  Of course... I didn't want to directly ask.   Sometimes with a 6 year old that gets you an ornery response instead of what you're hoping for!  So, instead, I asked him a more neutral question: was he done for the day, or did he want to do another lesson before moving on to spelling?

His reply: "Just 1 more?!  I want to do 5 more!  Or maybe 10!  Or more than that!  I love this!".

I was a bit astonished.  Not that it isn't a good program, but I didn't think it looked THAT magical!  But, apparently, it is.

I managed to coax him away after 6 lessons.  He assures me he's going to do 10 tomorrow.

I'm thinking I'm going to need the next few levels to get me through the fall, there are only 118 lessons in the book!  I'm not complaining though.  A child who loves math?  Yes please.

P.S. - stay tuned.  If the bed rest gets boring enough you may be delighted to hear about many more of my thoughts on math, math programs, and young children.  I am growing quite the collection of math curriculums with full intentions to do them all.  You can't have too much math is my philosophy.... right?!?!!

Just kidding.  Kind of.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jake's Thoughts on Bed Rest

Jake made me this lovely picture a few days after I came home from the hospital.  Matt thinks Jake was channeling how he would feel, being me, on bed rest.  I think the picture cracks me up every time I see it.

The scene: a castle, with many captives.

On the left, with the blue window: "not well"

Higher on the left, another captive: "help!"

On the top, the captive is also saying... "I wish I could be outside"

On the right: "help me too"

And on the bottom right: "It's not that fun in here"

Isn't he creative?  I love it.  A story and a lovely picture, all in one.  Brought to you by Jake!

Siri and Lincoln

Lincoln likes tech toys.  Why not?  They're shiny and pretty and have bright colors on them.  It's what attracts me to them too.  iPhones, iPads, kindles, screen savers... he's not too picky.

That being said, I should issue a disclaimer that although I might let him "hold" the phone - or briefly swipe at the screen on an iPad to see what happens - we don't actually have any apps for the 1 year old.  I think that would be just silly.    :)

The other day he did manage to interact with the iPhone though.  He holds down the buttons to try and make something happen, so he managed to "connect" with Siri.  This is the result of their conversation:

Hmmm... I think Siri still needs some fine tuning.  At least in the communication with a 12 month old area.  Apparently he asked something along the lines of "Siri what you want", and Siri searched the web to show him how to make Siri curse like a sailor.

I can see I'll have to keep a close eye on this kid.  Or on Siri, not sure which!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jake Ball

We have posted shots of Bentley playing the scoop ball game and Bentley playing basketball. Today we will feature Jake playing ball.

Here he is playing the scoop ball game:

Here he is playing baseball:

He also plays basketball, soccer, and badminton. We keep busy at our house.

Viva plays a little ball, too. The other day she and Bentley played a game of soccer with Bentley. They got in fight over the rules of the game. She has played badminton once or twice, not nearly as often as the boys play. I think she's played the scoop ball game once with Bentley. He said she was pretty good at flinging the ball, but needed more practice catching it.

Lincoln is in love with all the outdoor balls. His current favorite piece of outdoor sports equipment is the scoop for the scoop ball game. He grabs one in each hand and drags them around. If you try and take them away he gets very angry.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Vocabulary Spelling City Website

I was recently given premium access to the Vocabulary Spelling City website, and the chance to review it!  What is Vocabulary Spelling City?  It's an amazing website with a huge number of games to help your kids out with their spelling and vocabulary retention skills.   There is also much more to the site including grammar practice and a new writing aid feature.  The content available is designed to help kids ranging in age  from kindergarten all the way through to highschool school.

I have used the site in the past, with the free games available.  There are many of them and even without a paid membership this site is a great resource.  Vocabulary Spelling City provides a nice mix of features I like AND games the kids enjoy.  Although, it should be noted, a basic understanding of the keyboard is necessary to most of the games!  So if you're not interested in teaching your 5 year old to hunt and peck for letters you might only want to use this site with slightly older children.

You can input any list of words you want, and then pick between a number of games to have your child practice the words.  There are spelling games, and there are vocabulary ones as well.  There are a huge number of existing lists, or you can create your own.  What does the paid subscription add?  Most important to me is the ability to save your spelling and vocabulary lists and to track your children's scores.  Most exciting to my kids is probably the additional 9 games you get access to.

Other fun features that stand out to me:
  • The ability to print a number of the games.  Such as analogy sheets, or custom generated crossword puzzles.
  • Ad free "gaming" for the kids with the premium subscription.  It's nice to have the screen be uncluttered of the advertising junk.
  • The new Vocabulary Spelling City iPhone/iPad app that was released just this past month.  You can pull up your custom spelling lists from the app and play a subset of the games.
How do we use the site?  As a fun supplement to the written spelling lists we normally do as a part of our main spelling curriculum.  Variety is the spice of life, right?!

Cons?  Other than the overwhelming amount of information and options on the site (just kidding!)?!  None, really.  Use the free games, or try out the premium membership which costs $29.99 for an annual subscription that you can use with up to 5 children.  I think that price is reasonable, as long as you end up consistently using the site.  You can read all about their other premium membership benefits here.

Want other thoughts and opinions?  To see what the rest of the TOS Crew had to say head over to the Schoolhouse Review blog.  

I was provided with this subscription to review free of charge.  That being said, all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

32 Weeks!

The baby-who-is-not-yet-born is 32 weeks old today. That is awesome, awesome, awesome! Kara continues to do the right thing and stay off her feet all day, every day, except when she goes to see her doctors. Once a week she visits her OB and once a week she sees a perinatal specialist. Every visit she is hooked up to a monitor and the baby is checked out. He continues to grow and be active. We are thankful that he has been able to stay put.

P.S. Today is Matt & Kara's 13th Wedding Anniversary. They will not be celebrating because 1) Kara is on bed rest and 2) Matt flew to Idaho today to attend his Grandpa Altman's funeral. Kara said since it was their 13th, she hadn't plan on celebrating anyway. (Since when is she superstitious?)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bentley and the Bee

No, this isn't a story about getting stung by a bee.  Those stories belong to my mother and my husband!

Bentley, it would appear at first glance, has a strange fascination with bees.  We have been working through a grammar and writing program and there are lots of fill in the blank/finish the sentence type of exercises.

I have lately noticed that there are an unusual number of bees filling in the blanks on his assignments.  Which seems odd to me, given his large vocabulary and the so many other words that exist!  Odd unless you really really like bees, right?

Or, as he tells me, unless you like writing the word bee.  Because you've figured out it's very quick and easy.  It's his standby answer he tells me - if he can fit it in the blank he does.  Then he doesn't have to keep thinking of other words.

Should I be concerned about his lack of creativity, and "corner cutting"?  Or should I be impressed at his cleverness?!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pavement Art

The children like to draw with chalk and with water on our driveway.

This past weekend Jake painted this figure with water and a foam brush. He came running into the house demanding that we come see his artwork before it went away. (Hot pavement is not the best medium for a water drawings.)

Monday evening Viva quickly sketched this character on the driveway. It reminded both Mark and I of early cave paintings.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Truth About Lincoln

We've sung Lincoln's praises for over a year now. We haven't dished much dirt on him. It's true that there isn't much that he does that we can complain about, but there is one rather major item. When Lincoln gets mad he sometimes holds his breath until he passes out and his eyes roll back in their sockets. None of the previous children did this. Ever.

The first time I was holding Lincoln and he did it, I ran for the stairs to get Kara's help. She just shrugged and told me that the doctor said not to worry. Passing out kicks his breathing reflex back on. Okay...good to know. Still a little disturbing, but it's good to know that he's not hurting himself.

I have only seen this behavior a handful of times and only once did he pass out. Usually he just inhales for so long that he collapses with a whimper. It's quite pitiful. He can't scream very loud in this condition, although he makes up for it when he recovers his breath.

Lincoln usually reserves this behavior for his father. Why? Because Matt is his favorite person in the world and when Matt leaves the room without Lincoln (to change clothes after work, to use the bathroom, to get rid of a stinky diaper, etc.), Lincoln gets angry. Some days are worse than others. Some days Matt is not allowed to even put Lincoln down. Trying to slip Lincoln into his crib precipitates a major fit.

This behavior did not start after Kara went into the hospital and got put on bed rest. Lincoln has favored Matt for months even though Kara has been the parent who was there for him night after night after night while Matt came and went on business trips. Kara was there for him 24-7, but Matt was the favorite one. Children can be so fickle.

 Here are a couple of photos of Lincoln doing a dramatic performance of "PICK ME UP NOW!" (He does this for opa and I as well as for daddy.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Boys' Idaho Trip

Jake and Bentley traveled to Idaho with their father on the Fourth of July. They stayed a week and when they returned Kara was in the hospital and life became rather crazy for the household, so the trip to Idaho was never blogged about. Since I don't know how long it will take Matt to put something together, I thought I'd do a quick interview with the boys about the trip. I interviewed them this past week, four weeks after the trip.

 I asked Jake to tell me about his trip to Idaho. He said: "It was really sunny."

"We went camping in the mountains for two days."

Bentley interrupted Jake at this point: "No, Jake. We were there for two and a half days."

Once the record was set straight, Bentley went back to reading and I continued to quiz Jake about the trip. I asked him what they did in Idaho. "We played with the kids." (Their second cousins--Matt's cousins' children.)

"We rided on the 4-wheelers."

"We got to drive with Dan and play soccer and play go fish." (This must have been on the camping trip.)

"We were at grandma's two houses. One was for storage and that's the one where Grandpa Tim and us sleeped." (It was actually Jake's great-grandma's house.)

"And I read the whole Little Bear book on my own really fast. It didn't take a long time." (The book is a collection of three Little Bear books each one of which is over 60 pages long.)

 I then made Bentley take time out from reading to tell me a few things about the trip. "We got to go on 4-wheelers."

"I saw a frog next to a mud puddle." (Frogs are rare in Alaska. My twin emailed me last week about a frog she saw in Juneau. Frog sightings are rarer than moose or even bear sightings.)

"I got to sleep in a bed by myself."

Jake interrupted Bentley to add: "Two more nights I got to sleep with him. And we got to sleep in a camper." (This was on the aforementioned two and half day camping trip.)

Bentley concluded with: "I got to play baseball and climb trees." (Climbing trees are also rarer than moose.)

Sometime we will get some photos from the trip from Matt.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Legos: Bentley

Bentley hasn't spent as much time building with Legos this summer. He has been busy reading, biking, playing ball, and consorting with guests. He was distracted from Lego building. Nonetheless he did finish a few projects and just this past week he remade three sets that had been taken apart for storage--two Ninjago and a Dino set. The past two days he's been working on the Cars Big Bentley Bust Out. I had Mark take photos last week so I don't have any photos of his recent rebuilds.

Also, I should mention that a couple of weeks ago Bentley purchased his first Lego set with his own money. Starting on his sixth birthday he began receiving a monthly allowance. He has saved all his allowance for months, but finally decided he would use some of it buy a Lego set. He carefully looked at the Lego sets in his price range before deciding on a Ninjago set.

Bentley's Castle
He told us "there is a TV in the castle in the babysitting room for the babysitter."
Huh? A castle with a TV? with a babysitter?

This is the Ninjago set that Bentley purchased himself.
It's Ninjago Kai's Blade Cycle.

One of the many Star Wars sets the boys have built. And rebuilt.
They all look similar to me: gray!

An original creation which is very symmetrical.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Review: This Week in History

Earlier this summer I was given a subscription to This Week in History, from A Thomas Jefferson Education's website.

I had prior exposure to the Thomas Jefferson Education (TJE) method, and have read their book on the Phases of Learning, but I had not known that they also offer resource products!  Because I have enjoyed (and agree with) parts of their philosophy on education, I was excited to try this product out.

I have looked at several different "this day in history" type of resources in the past, and I can honestly say that I have found the subscription from TJE to be the most comprehensive, informative, and entertaining.

What do you get?  For a monthly fee of $9.99 you get a weekly email with a great big long list of potential discussion topics with your kids.  As the name "This Week in History" implies, these topics are offered up to you based on some type of correlation tying them from today's date to a date in history.  There are normally a few different events listed for each date, so if you are not inspired by one you have choices.  This Week in History is designed to work with kids of all ages.

What I like:

  • This subscription doesn't simply say, for example, "World War 1 started on July 28th, 1914."  It provides a commentary about the start of World War 1 and accompanying potential discussion questions you could use.
  • I like the tone of the emails.  They are very well written and engaging.
  • The breadth of topics covered.  They vary from literary analysis of Pinocchio (on the date of the author's birthday!), to study of the states (on the date New York became a state!) to Bugs Bunny!
  • Pictures, and lots of them!  There are lots of pictures included in the weekly email, so you can print it out and share them with your kids.
  • Sometimes simple activities/experiments that relate to the topic of the day are included.  But not every time - which is good with me, as I find too many hands on activities to become overwhelming!
  • The amount of content.  You can tell time was put into creating this resource, it's not at all a simple bullet list.  There are resource links for each topic, LOTS of information on each topic, and so many great topics to select from for discussing with the kids.
What I don't like:
  • Despite the engaging content, I'm not sure that I would pay $120 over the course of the year for this material.  If i was more of a unschooler and planned to let the topics and fun educational wandering from them lead a greater portion of my day?  Maybe!  But I prefer a more structured approach to our homeschool days, and although I find this material fun I would have an easier time justifying it as a fun supplement if a discount was offered for a annual subscription.
That being said, I have enjoyed reading the This Week in History emails when they show up in my inbox.  I think they provide a great resource to jump start varied learning explorations with the kids.  Check out a sample week from their series, here.

Want other thoughts and opinions?  To see what the rest of the TOS Crew had to say head here.  

I was provided with this product to review free of charge.  That being said, all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

Legos: Viva

Viva likes Legos. Sometimes. When she gets a new set she builds it. Lego's new line of Friends sets helps to keep her interested. Once in a while she builds something of her own design. Once in a great while she will build a small set from daddy's or opa's Lego sets. Legos are fun, but not usually her first or second activity choice. She is most likely to choose them when everyone else is doing them.

 Viva's newest Lego Friends set

 An original creation--Christmastime at church

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Legos: Jake

Jake is the most obsessed Lego builder in the house. (Opa is the most obsessed Lego buyer, but he doesn't build as much.) Jake builds and builds and builds. He has many projects underway and quite a few finished projects. He rotates his time between his projects. The other day he was working on his city when he suddenly stood up and said "I have to go build my airplane!" and he left. Huh? I had asked him the previous week (not day!) why he hadn't finish the new Cars Lego set from his birthday. He'd built all the cars, but had not built the airplane in the set. He loves Lego airplanes, so I was baffled why he hadn't built it. He told me he didn't like the eyes on the airplane. Okay. When he got to work on it, he built it quickly and, like I expected, he really likes it. Another Lego hit.

Jake complains that he doesn't have enough time for Legos. He has daily chores, reading, iPad time (he could forego this, but he doesn't), outside time, meal time, time with his siblings, time with dad, etc. He's a busy guy.

We don't, of course, have all of Jake's finished projects on display. We sometimes take apart Lego projects to make room (and bricks!) for new Lego projects. And since we've taken these photos last week Jake has built a few more Lego projects and I helped him take a few apart. The family room floor was getting hard to negotiate because of all the projects in progress.

Jake's Lego Creator Lighthouse which has been finished since the photo was taken.

A Jake Original: part of a castle

Jake's City
Matt built a huge Lego city when he was a kid and Jake likes that idea.
The city has been expanded another couple of sections since the photo. 

A close-up of some of the details of the cityscape.

A plane from the city

Two of Jake's Houses

This is the smaller house of which Jake said "The small house has children in their afternoon nap and the mom and dad downstairs making bread for their supper." He then removed part of the roof so we could see the napping children. Sure enough, they were there in the attic.

Jake's semi-truck is in the foreground.

A birthday gift: Star Wars Darth Maul's Sith Infiltrator
Grandpa Tim bought this set without knowing it was on Jake's most wanted list.

A small bus designed by Jake.

I could go on and on and on because Jake builds and builds and builds, but it's past my bedtime. The children have been asleep for hours. I cannot keep up with them when they are rested and I am not!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


The first part of the summer biking was Bentley's favorite activity and then it was the trac ball racket game (silly name, I know) and finally basketball has made it to the top of the list. Jake follows Bentley's lead in outdoor activities, so he's been playing more basketball, too.

Lincoln is quite enamored of the game, too. Unfortunately, he's too short to use the hoops, even the smaller one is for quite a bit older children. He tries, though. Viva has been working on her game, too, but she doesn't play with a basketball for some reason. She prefers a cheap plastic ball that barely fits through the hoop. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

Review: Math Made Easy Multiplication Package

Earlier this summer I was sent a copy of Multiplication Teaching and Learning Made Easy, to review.  This 6 week program to master basic multiplication and multiplication fact memorization was created by Glenda Brown James, and sells for $25.

At first glance the product doesn't look like much!  It simply consists of a spiral bound book, which is 72 pages long.  I was pleasantly surprised, upon closer inspection, to find that despite the small package the program looks big on results.  The 72 pages include an introduction to the method, lesson plans, 6 weeks of work sheets, games/flashcards/results "tracker" on card stock, and pre and post tests for your child.

Glenda's premise is simple: learning multiplication facts doesn't need to be a long drawn out process involving the rote memorization of your 0x0 up to 10x10 facts.  How to simplify it into a 6 week process?  First of all you cover the 0's, 1's, and 10's facts.  They don't really require memorization because they are so simple.  Then you discuss the commutative property of multiplication - which simply states that it doesn't matter if you say 8x9 or 9x8, the answer will be the same!  It's a simple fact that we remember as adults, but that doesn't necessarily "click" right away with a child.

When you take into account the above information, you are able to pare down the list of facts necessary to memorize to 36.  The author breaks these facts out into 6 weeks, and provides daily activity pages, flash cards, and drill games to help make the learning process more fun.

What I like:

  • The author writes in simple language that's easy to understand.
  • A variety of types of problems are provided in the worksheets, to ensure a good grasp on the basic principle of multiplication.
  • The program stresses the important of memorization, and not addition in your head (what's 2x4? 2+2+2+2....).  Memorization is so much quicker, and mastery of these facts is an essential building block to higher level math ease!
  • It's quick and easy to use.

What I don't love:

  • The product layout is not very clearly organized and labeled.  It took me a little time to find the different items mentioned in the lessons, due to the somewhat random (in my opinion!) ordering.
  • One of the activities in the back (a tracking "chart") completely lacks instructions.  I figured out what to do with it, but not without some extra thinking and time.


Although I wouldn't use this as a core part of my math curriculum, I think it makes for a fun supplement.  If you have kids that need help mastering their times tables this would be a good option to consider!  It's also nice that the copyright clearly gives you permission to copy the materials for your own use - so you can use it with multiple children in your family.

If you're interested in checking this product out yourself, it can be purchased here.  It is designed for 3rd and 4th grades but, of course, that is simply the suggested target audience.  I've enjoyed looking at it with my 6 year old and think it's something my 5 year olds could handle later this year.  The author of this program also has an addition program, if you would like to read reviews about it (and other reviews about the multiplication product) go here:

I was provided with this product to review free of charge.  That being said, all opinions expressed are 100% mine.