Some of my children have easily learned their addition and multiplication facts, the traditional way, through manipulatives and memorization. But others hit the memorization wall, and crumpled.
When I first encountered this obstacle with addition I purchased, and was thrilled with, Judy Liautaud's Addition The Fun Way, a Picture Method of Learning the Addition Facts.
Through a series of amusing stories and comical illustrations, children learn each fact, almost without effort. Once the facts are learned you can proceed, as normal, with worksheets and speed drills, if that's your desire.
So, when we hit a similar wall with multiplication facts, I happily purchased Liataud's Times Tables the Fun Way. But, while Dave Rodriguez's illustrations are pretty much identical to Val Chadwick Bagley's from the addition book, the basic method of the stories has changed.
In the addition book, Liautaud assigns one character to each number - so 3 Bee, 4 Door, 5 Who Can Drive, Sick 6, and so on. The characters stay the same in every story. 3 + 6 is a story about Sick 6, and 3 Bee, and the answer has to do with a 9 Sign (I won't give it all away, since I don't have the author's permission), while 6 + 4 deals with Sick 6 walking into a 4 Door. Whether used as addends or sums, the characters stay the same.
Sadly, this method does not carry over into Multiplication the Fun Way. Although, the characters look the same as before, they change from story to story. So, you simply memorize the picture associated with each multiplication fact (like the one on the cover), instead of remembering a story. Unfortunately, if you can memorize the picture, you could probably just as easily memorize the original multiplication fact.
Instead, for our multiplication stories, we turned to Alan Walker's Memorization In Minutes, The Fastest And Easiest Way To Teach The Times Tables. Walker's illustrations are not nearly as charming as Bagley's or Rodriguez's, but he follows a method very similar to the one used in Addition the Fun Way. Each number is again given a character, and the answers follow a rhyming technique (21 sounds like denty sun, 24 sound like denty floor, and so on) that is easy to remember, and makes sense.
You can read all about the logic behind this method, here, for Liautaud's books and here, for Walker's. But, I can tell you, that after an initial explanation of how addition and multiplication work, these books saved me hours of frustration. And, in the end, whether it's counting on fingers, using manipulatives, working with flash cards, or learning stories, finding the method that makes sense, and speeds memorization for each child, is worth the effort.
It's great to be a homeschooler.
Linked with Math Monday at Joyful Learner.