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Times Tables The Fun Way Review by Heidi Shaw

Addition The Fun Way
Judy Liautaud
City Creek Press

Whenever I use the words "this is going to be fun", my kids are traditionally, well, skeptical. I don't have a great track record for defining fun in their eyes! Judy Liautaud and City Creek Press have saved me forever with these great products. My kids eyes light up and they really laugh when Times Tables the Fun Way comes off the shelf. These kits are great! Perfect for home or on the road, I frequently hear my son laughing about 'thirsty sixes' or 'going 4 by 4ing when he's 16'! The kids have met fun, memorable characters in silly situations and not even really noticed that they were memorizing math facts along the way.

Times Tables the Fun Way kit consists of a hard board paged story book which introduces the students to some very interesting characters. Judy has made character representation out of number shapes, sounds,and facts, so as they are internallized, they really are remembered. The main story book takes you through the facts of the math tables, one group at a time. They whiz through the easy zeros and ones,and make short work of the two's since most kids have no trouble with these facts. Starting with the three times tables, you will meet characters like the three baby mice who have three tails each(3X3=9). These characters interact with each other in a story format that tell the multiplication facts being worked on. I can't give away all the fun, but suffice it to say both my nine year old son and my eleven year old nephew laughed out loud while reading these stories. The stories are easy enough to be read independently by the kids and the pictures are bright, bold, and humorous. It is true that young children seem to learn best when we engage all their senses and Judy has managed to do that with these books. They target that area in a kid's brain that just soaks up information when presented in song or story format.

Each kit contains the main story book, a pack of durable flash cards that feature the characters on one side and a math fact on the other,as well as a teacher book that contains neat lesson plans and worksheets to ensure mastery and for reinforcement. My kids were hesitant again with the worksheets (which are optional of course), but because of their great enjoyment of the stories and the fun they have been having with the characters, we decided to give it a try. The kids were pleasantly surprised to see all that they had retained.

Judy has also available a CD of songs that reinforce the stories and appeal to the musician in the group. I found them quite charmingly silly, which is exactly why my daughter loves them. Once when I told her that the song was 'goofy' she laughed and played it over and over about six times. Guess which facts she has down cold now?!

The characters and situations the children will meet in each story book remain the same throughout each book.They will meet the same 6's and they will still look the same. Poor six is always sick so he slumps over his big belly and has a very sad look on his face-too cute!All the situations and scenarios in the stories work together to build a 'community' in the kid's minds. By the time we were through the addition book, the characters were like old friends and the math facts naturally flowed out of each story. Several times my kids jumped the gun and got the fact as soon as the character was introduced! I tried to skip the story but there was no way we could do that. These books make great bedtime stories too. They hear the story and then remember it the next morning, proof positive that it works!There are more suggestions like this in the Teachers Book. Multiplication came first in the writing process and then the addition book came later. Both are excellent reinforcement materials, perfect for summer or holiday retention, or just for a really fun break! I am sure you will be pleased with these packs. Obviously these books were written with the kids in mind because the kids laugh all the way through them. Judy Liautaud has done quite a bit of research into how kids learn best and it really shows here. Check out the website ( and see the other kits available. Your kids will start believing even math can be fun! A great summer treat, take a set with you on your holiday and enjoy!

--Product Review by: Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine