If you have children who struggle to learn the times tables, you might find Times Tales a godsend. It focuses only on the multiples of three, four, six, seven, eight, and nine, the ones that are the most challenging. (I would love to see the program expanded up through 11 and 12!)
Even though the video component is probably the most important, I'll describe the workbook first, since it's the easiest way to describe how Times Tales works.
The Times Tales workbook uses visual mnemonic stories to help children recall math facts. Each number is drawn as a picture that incorporates the number. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman each represent the number eight for 8 x 8. They hold six snow cones in their hands. The story is that they need to eat six snow cones four times a day, which helps students remember that the product of 8 x 8 is 64. Each multiplication-fact story is presented on one page. Students will answer questions in relation to the story. The next page reviews the story again in a different fashion. The multiplication-fact stories are taught in the first two sections of the book. Crossword Puzzle Challenges and Story Review Quizzes for each of these two sections quiz students on elements of stories from that section. An optional mini flipbook with the story images and a one-sentence summary for each can be used to drill students on the stories.
Interestingly, children first learn the stories without mention of math facts. After the first Story Review Quiz, a "Light Bulb Moment!" page explains to students how the stories are actually teaching the math facts. Students then practice facts on Flashcard Practice and quiz pages that show the facts as equations but with numbers drawn in the form of the mnemonic characters they have learned. Then students make the final transition to normal numerical representations as they continue to practice the facts.
The third part of the book, Additional Reinforcements, has a quiz and a test for each of the two parts plus a cumulative test. It also has pages you can cut out and use with flashcards, "Roll 'Em" cubes for a game, and memory story booklets to assemble.
The final section of the book adds division facts, teaching them from the perspective of what is missing from a multiplication fact. There are flashcards, quizzes, and a test for this section.
While you can teach the entire program from only the book, the Times Tale video component (available via streaming, DVD, or USB) makes it super simple for students to work mostly on their own. The videos can be used in place of or alongside the book.
The video does the teaching for you, presenting stories in an animated fashion and following periodically with a visual quiz. Quizzes include division facts. The sets include access to digital files with printable pages from the books for flashcards, quizzes, crossword puzzles, Roll 'Em cubes, tests, and an answer key.
Both the book and the video encourage parents and teachers to give students time between parts one and two by using the additional reinforcements for at least a week or more. Students should also have thoroughly mastered the multiplication facts before tackling division.
The publisher relates stories of surprising success from parents who tell how their children mastered their facts in anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It shouldn't take long for children to master their facts with this program.