Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Multiplication Rocks!

One of the joys of summer vacation for parents is the end of it. No, not necessarily because it gets kids out of the house - they're out of the house all day anyway. It's the prospect of seeing their kids start a new school year, and anticipating everything that will happen to them in the next nine months or so.

However, in our kids' school the upcoming teachers sometimes assign over-the-summer homework - not that uncommon, really, and it's more like prep-work than homework. In preparing to enter the fourth grade, BrainyBoy v9.5 was to be able to discuss one book he's read over the summer, and also to become proficient with his times tables.

Now I'm sure many of you will remember the grueling hours spent with flash cards, math books, paper and pencil...attempting to commit the dreaded "twice times", as A.A. Milne put it, to memory. I recall sitting in the corner of my elementary school classroom with my teacher, popping the answers out of my brain as she pointed with a very long stick to different equations on a large sheet of paper. 2 X 5? 10!.....7 X 9? 63! For the most part, I think I did pretty well. But I, as did many of my generation, had a little extra practice. On Saturday Mornings.

Schoolhouse Rock, as most of you know, was the set of musical cartoon shorts they played between Saturday morning TV shows on ABC back in the 70's and 80's... Grammer, History, Science and Math rocked to the beats of "I'm Just A Bill" and "Conjunction Junction". Hardly an American between 35-45 can't sing to you, on demand, the Preamble to the Constitution.

Well, a couple years ago I just happened to purchase the entire DVD collection of Schoolhouse Rock. Strictly for my kids, of course - I would never admit to rewatching them myself.


So tonight, in reviewing our lagging-behind times tables, BrainyBoy (and Tink, because, well, cartoons are cartoons) began their weeklong journey into learning the multiplication tables by song. And that's how we spent our evening: watching, singing, and learning that...yes, indeed, Three is a Magic Number.

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