Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time Tales and Clean 'n' Flip Charts

Trigger Memory Systems has some terrific products! Two of which I recently had the opportunity to review. The first product I reviewed was their Clean 'n' Flip Charts. These are a really neat concept. There are three different spiral bound flip charts. The first is for zone cleaning (which includes the kitchen, bathroom, and living room)the second is for the bedroom, and the third is for the laundry, .

The Zone Chart is probably the most popular because it contains the three big areas in the house where most chores occur. It is made of a nice durable card stock with a glossy finish. It comes with a black dry erase marker for the children to check off each chore as it is finished. The different areas are separated by colored pages in the book. This makes it easy to flip directly to the pages for the area they are working on. There are easy to follow pictures, as well as text for older children. Each area has a page with a specific chore assigned for each day of the week as well as a page where you can write in extra chores you want completed. There is also a "Time Zone" where you can write in the time you want each chore finished. This can be used with one child or several.

For the bedroom chart, it uses a system of walking around the perimeter of the room (starting at the door) to pick up all out of place items, which are then placed in the middle of the floor. Then the child is taught how to categorize those items and return them to their proper place. In this chart, there is also a weekly jobs page included where the parent can write in extra jobs that need done. There was even an easy tip on teaching when to empty the garbage can.

The laundry chart might have been my favorite because it was a chore we had not tried with my son. I have to say that he loved it! The directions were very well done and offered nice tips for specific things like how to tell what size the load is, which cycle to choose, and how to separate the clothes into whites, lights, and colors. This chart will take children through the entire process from dirty laundry basket to putting the clothes away. I did end up doing a few extra things like writing on the chart the name of the cycles on my machine and what color loads they matched up with. They do list this in the chart, but my machine was slightly different and I wanted my son to know exactly which one to choose and be able to do it independently. I also put two black lines around the outside of my laundry detergent cup so he could easily see how much to fill it for a small or large sized load. My son enjoyed this so much he did three loads of laundry within the first day and a half! Of course that will wear off but at least he now knows how to do laundry and I have added it to his weekly chore list.

These laundry and bedroom charts were not made to use the dry erase marker on. If you write on them and would want to change it, you need to do it in pencil. These were made with a different card stock and it doesn't have the same glossy finish. They were made this way to keep the cost down for the customer. They are still a wonderful tool!

If you are interested in purchasing these, here are the prices:
The Zone Chart: $17.95
Bedroom Char: $7.95
Laundry Chart: $7.95

Zone and Bedroom Chart: $22.95
Zone Chart, Bedroom Chart, and Laundry Chart: $29.95.

Just click here to order.

The second product was Times Tales. When they say "made easy" and "learn 'em fast", they aren't kidding! My son is dyslexic and struggles with remembering the addition and subtraction facts and I figured multiplication tables would be the same way. I have found out they don't need to be. When we started to use this program, I wondered if he was really remembering all the stories I was showing him. The next day we did a review and sure enough, he had them all. We continued through the rest of the stories in part one and we had the same results. The true test was going to be when we starting using the flash cards and if he transferred this information to them. He was able to remember all of them with the symbol flashcards. We have not moved on to the regular flash cards yet, but I don't think it will be long. I am amazed at how well and effortlessly he has been able to learn these times tables. I would definitely recommend this product to anyone. Especially those with children who struggle remembering math facts.

The system comes with a very nice spiral bound flip book that includes all the stories for the multiplication tables. A chart is given at the beginning showing the symbols that are used for each number in the facts. An example of this would be a chair is used to represent the number four because they are shaped similarly. The stories are short, simple, and easy to remember. Each story has a picture using the number symbols and includes the answer in the story. This is the part that makes it so effortless.

The child is first introduced to the story by listening to it several times and then discussing it. Then he is presented with just the picture and must retell the story in his own words, making sure it is in the correct order. Then a set of flashcards are used which have the symbols on them in place of the actual numbers. This helps to start to visualize the actual facts but still having the symbols to trigger his memory. When these facts can be recalled quickly, a regular set of flash cards are then used. Finally a practice test, test, and verbal test are all given to make sure the facts are known and have become automatic.

The teacher's manual is very easy to use and simple to follow. Be sure to follow it exactly though! There is a specific process you must follow. The manual contains all the directions for teaching the facts, pretests, and tests. In addition though, it has some helpful activities to use throughout the process. There are crossword puzzles and a Roll'Em Cube Game. You can copy the cube pages on card stock and cut out and assemble the cubes to use for a game. The cubes include the regular numbers as well as symbols on them. After they are rolled, the child multiplies the two numbers together. This is a fun way to review the facts. At the back of the manual, there is an answer key for all tests and puzzles.

The only thing I thought could have been done a little differently (but it was not a big deal) was the thickness of the paper the flashcards were on. They are perforated for you to tear apart, but are on a thinner paper that doesn't seem to me would last through several children over the years. You could just copy those pages onto sturdier paper instead of tearing out and using them from the book. That would be my advice rather than using the ones in the book. Then you would have them year after year and wouldn't have to worry if they got ripped or lost. Again, I believe the cards were made the way they were to keep the price affordable for the customer. This is something we all can appreciate and was not a big enough deal to me that I wouldn't purchase them. I just thought I'd mention it so that anyone with more than one child would be aware of it before tearing out the flashcard pages.

This seems like an excellent program and an answer to a lot of parents problems with getting their children to learn the multiplication facts. This one time buy, could be used with all of your children! The cost is only $29.95.

To order this click here.

Heidi Miller-Ford

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