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Kids Multiplication Motivation Review by Camilla Anderson

Ms. Jones and the UE Family

Kids Multiplication Motivation is a hip-hop DVD with 13 songs/videos intended to help children memorize their times tables. Included is an audio CD with the same songs. Each song covers one set of multiplication facts, from "the twos" through "the twelves." The DVD also includes behind-the-scenes footage and instruction on new ways to multiply and divide.

I had hopes that this product would at least be adequate in teaching times tables, because I have a 4th grade daughter who is just now working on memorizing her multiplication facts. Any help would have been good help. Sadly, this DVD did not help us at all. While Ms. Jones is just lovely, and you can tell she is a passionate and gifted teacher, and the children in the video are adorable and talented, this DVD falls short in many ways.

It seemed to me that using hip-hop and/or rap-style songs and lyrics would be a great way to teach multiplication facts because of the potential for creative rhythm and rhyme. However, the songs on this DVD, written by Ms. Jones, all sound the same, with no distinctly creative melodies--even "rap" melodies--just endless monotonous chanting. All we remembered after viewing the video twice was the repetitive thump of a bass. The song lyrics are repetitive in the wrong way, and in most songs the children are endlessly chanting repetitive "filler" lyrics. Much less time in each song is actually given to numbers. Each song "counts up" by a number, so if you can endure the monotonous thumping and boring repetition to get to the actual part of each song where they count the numbers, it is possible you could learn to count up by each number 2 through 12, but you could learn it more quickly and easily without this DVD. Multiplication facts are not actually taught at all--just counting by numbers in a string. Now, that of course, if learned, can certainly help the memorizing of multiplication facts, but these songs are not memorable or catchy--just slightly creative, at best. To be honest, the "twelves" song, titled "I'm Counting by 12 and I Want to Yell," was cute and memorable. It was the only song on the DVD that we found ourselves singing for fun after we turned the video off.

The songs are long, drawn out, repetitive, and tedious. Even the counting part of each song is not very catchy with rhythm or melody. I think the time it would take to teach any children these songs would be far longer than it would take to teach them how to simply count by numbers without the song. In contrast, at about the same time, my daughter received the Schoolhouse Rock DVD as a gift, and she instantly learned her three times tables, as well as the Preamble to the Constitution, the order of the planets in our solar system, and many other educational facts. And, weeks later, she is still singing the Schoolhouse Rock songs daily.

The "instruction" included on "new ways to multiply and divide" is simply Ms. Jones showing a creative trick she taught her students to use in conjunction with the counting songs to "count up by numbers" to multiply or divide. It is just that--a creative trick, nothing revolutionary and nothing that is conceptual mathematically. If your children learned to count by all the numbers up to 12, then you could use this trick to teach multiplication and division. But it didn't strike me as particularly clever or helpful. In addition, the production quality of the DVD is poor, with lots of background noise such as people, traffic, and wind. The behind-the-scenes footage runs like a noisy and unintelligible home video, using poor-quality footage of children running about a classroom and goofing off while waiting for something to start. The children really are adorable and talented--but not so much that I want to sit and watch them goof off and prattle on about nothing.

I would tell you whether or not it's worth the money, but I couldn't find out how much it costs. When visiting the website, all I could find was various fashion photos of Ms. Jones being displayed to monotonous lounge music. If I didn't know better, I would have assumed I had accidentally stumbled on an adult-themed site. I tried clicking on the link to purchase this product, but to no avail. All I got was a new pretty picture of Ms. Jones with her belly showing. As for this product, I would say don't bother. It is a colossal waste of time--unless, of course, your child is one of the cuties on the DVD.

Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2009