Friday, April 08, 2005

Product Review-School House Rock

Today's product recommendation is School House Rock.

My own parents never let us watch Saturday morning cartoons so I missed these neat, educational featurettes. My own children love this DVD. It is a compilation that includes Grammar Rock, Money Rock, Science Rock, Multiplication Rock and America Rock. Disney has also included several "bonuses"- long lost songs/never before released songs/songs newly written for this special edition/etc.

Two of the volumes on this DVD hold importance for teaching math: Multiplication Rock and Money Rock. My son knew his mutiplication facts for twos, threes, fives and tens by the time he was 4 years old. We didn't use flash cards. We didn't take timed tests. He just watched the Multiplication Rock section on our School House Rock DVD. We would sing the songs in the car and at the breakfast table. The simple words and catchy rhythms helped him memorize his "times tables." Money Rock is loads of fun. The songs help children understand the basics of money. My personal favorite is Tyrannosaurus Debt.

In order to ensure that your child gets the full benefit of this DVD, I suggest the following:

  1. Watch the songs with your children. Learn which are their favorites.
  2. Sing the songs during the day. All of the lyrics are available online, if you want to print out a hard copy to carry with you.
  3. Help your children make the connection between what they have heard and what they are doing at school. If a teacher sends home flash cards for the "3 times tables," remind your child about the song. Lay out the flash cards in order. Then help them sing, "Three is a magic number. Yes, it is, it's a magic number..." Chant "3-6-9, 12-15-18..." and point to the corresponding flash cards.
  4. Watch the DVD frequently. The advantage that a DVD format has over the old VHS format is that you can easily select individual songs to view. These mini movie segments were originally intended to be viewed during commercial breaks. Let your children watch one or two when there are just a few minutes until school, dinner or bed time.
  5. If you prefer, purchase just the CD and let your children listen to it in the car, in bed and during meals.

At some point, nearly every child will be required by their elementary school teacher to prove that they have memorized their multiplication facts. This DVD and CD collection can give your children a jump start.

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