Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Times Alive by City Creek Press

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we were fortunate enough to receive Times Alive from City Creek Press.  We downloaded the Mac version -- there is also a PC version available, and you can purchase it as a CD instead of downloading.

The Times Alive software is based upon the book Times Tables the Fun Way, which I've heard about but never seen.  The basic premise of both the book and the software is to take the hardest to memorize multiplication facts and make up little stories about them.

So facts like the zero's, one's, two's, five's and nine's are covered as a group, then the remaining facts get their own little story.  The one on the cover of the software has to do with driving a 4x4 when you are 16.  My older kids loved that one.

Okay, so our experiences with the program.  First, when you purchase a download version, you do need to wait a day or so to get the download link and code.  Now, that may have been because I was getting a code to get the program free -- a regular paying customer might have more immediate access.

The download process was painless.  Downloaded, installed, and ready to go.  I like that.

Then my kids got to get started.  One of the only things I do not like about the program is the sign-in process.  When you click LOGIN, you get a box where you are told to type your full name.  That would be okay the first time... but when you come back to the program the next day or the next week, you need to remember what exactly you typed last time.  Did you put in just your first name?  A nickname?  First and last name?  With an initial?  Did you type it wrong?  A very good program could have been made much better if there was the ability to choose a login name from a list after it had been created.

My kids were all told that their login was their first name, and nobody ever had issues with typing it incorrectly.  Just me... I created an account so I could play a little for purposes of writing this review.  Did I sign up as Mom?  Debra?  Deb?  And then you have to read through the Owner's Manual to figure out how to search to find user records.  Oh -- and who I had using this?  William (age 12), Thomas (age 10) and Richard (age 6).

Okay, so you get signed in... At that point, you are presented with 18 lessons, with each lesson including multiple parts.  Other than the final lesson, each lesson includes at least one movie.  Almost all the lessons include a song.  Each lesson includes either a quiz or a test.  Towards the end, some lessons include more than one quiz or test.

For some examples of the program, you can visit their YouTube channel.  Or watch below:

The above video shows you one of the little songs, for 3x4.  Before this song, there is a video where the story is told, where the idea that one-two (twelve) is the answer to 3 x 4 is explicitly laid out (you can see a sample movie for 6x8 here).  Then the above song is played, where it is assumed the student already "gets" the 1-2-3-4 idea.

The only thing remaining for this particular lesson is a quiz (what is shown in the above clip is a test), where the student needs to fill in the equation 3 x 4 = 12 a couple times.

Some of the lessons also include a "paint" section.  The older two rolled their eyes every time one of these came along.  Richard loved them.  These, however, were one of the reasons both William and Thomas said of the program (quoting William, but Thomas said something similar), "I liked it.  The stories were great, and easy to remember.  But it was clearly meant for kids younger than me."

One other very minor issue I had with the program, as the mom, is that in order to see my kids' progress, I have to log in as them and then look at the beginning screen and/or the student progress report (which is easily printable).  To see the next child, I have to quit, which closes the program completely, and then restart the program and choose the next child.  Just like I'd love to be able to choose an already established username, it would be nice to have an easier way to navigate from one progress report to the next.  Not a deal-breaker though. 

We really enjoyed this product.  I think it helped to solidify the math facts for Thomas and William, and Richard was learning them more slowly.  Available for $44.95 for the download version (this link is for the Mac version, PC version is here), for a few dollars more you can get it as a CD-ROM.

You can check out what my fellow crew-mates have to say about this program at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a complimentary download of this program from City Creek Press.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Hi Debra,

GREAT review... think I should go redo mine now : )