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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trigger Memory Systems products review

I got the most awesome package from Trigger Memory Systems
(http://www.triggermemorysystems.com/) to review. I know I get excited about all of my home school reviews as they arrive but when it comes down to it, after using some products for a week or so, it is harder to be as enthusiastic about them. I have tested many wonderful programs that simply don't fit with our family or are very hard to implement. Not Zone Cleaning or Times Tales...I can easily see these products being useful to quite a few families, whether homeschooling or not, and I found all of the books very easy to use once I got some time to try them.

What I received were 3 flip chart books on cleaning for kids and times tables. These cleaning books-Laundry for Kids, Bedroom Cleaning for Kids, and the WONDERFUL Zone Cleaning for Kids-were the first items we tried. The cleaning books are meant to be used with a wipe-off marker so kids can keep track of their progress. But please don't think these are your run-of-the-mill chore checklists; these books teach, yes teach your children in a very understandable and usable manner, proper cleaning techniques.

The laundry book goes step by step from gathering and sorting laundry all the way to the actual use of the washing machine and how to fold and sort the dried clothing. The bedroom cleaning book teaches children to use a system of 4 baskets to sort items into for returning to either their proper location or to go into the trash bin, laundry room , etc. But first, kids begin with making a messy pile. My kids loved this. Making a mess only to turn and clean it sounds counter-productive. But its really simple genius. Children work their way around their rooms, putting all loose items into the messy pile. They then sort the messy pile using the 4 basket technique, return items from the baskets to their destination, and follow up with some simple chores such as emptying wastebaskets and making the bed. Voila! Clean room, efficient, and fast as well.

My very favorite of the three cleaning books is the Zone Cleaning book. We have yet to implement the system, but we have read over and discussed the book's methods and we plan to begin it over the holidays. How it works is the house is divided into zones, such as kitchen, bath, and living room. You can assign a child a zone to monitor for one week. Each day the book shows the child which chores to do in that zone, and then leaves a check-off box for them to keep track of their completion of the work. For example, the bathroom zone has kids (or parents) completing 3 steps every day during the week, such as "tidy up", "wash and disinfect", and "empty trash". After these three steps are complete the zone monitor (my chosen title) is to do another special day-of-the-week job such as mopping and sweeping on Monday, scrubbing the tub on Tuesday, scrubbing the toilet on Wednesday, etc.

At our house we do a few chores everyday but often get behind during the week as we run to and fro. Then we spend 2-3 hours every weekend giving the house a thorough cleaning. I can't wait to try this plan, assigning kids a zone and then setting aside 15 minutes or so each day to do our zone cleaning. This might be a nice time to put on some praise music and boogie with the broom! I think we'll have to get in the habit of doing this everyday but in the end, this will mean one larger chunk of free time on the weekends. Who can argue with that?

I am even thinking of making a spin-the-wheel type chart to assign zones randomly so we can each have a turn taking care of the various zones. This will give the kids a chance to learn to better care for the whole house.

Now, Trigger Memory Systems also has your multiplication woes covered with its book Times Tales. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of this book but when it hit my brain, I could've kicked myself as its simplicity. I was making it too hard, but my visual learner took to it immediately. He picked right up on the concept, and just by reading through the story a few times every day for about three days, he has memorized all the multiplication problems covered thus far. On the first page the child sees very simple illustrations made from numbers. a three looks like a butterfly, a snowman is number 8, and 4 is a chair. These illustrations pop up in a series of simple tales that aid in fact memorization. For example, 9x3=27 is taught by a drawing of a butterfly (#3) flying past a tree house (#9) and she sees a treasure in a box, which is equal to is 27 cents. So in the child's mind he sees that when 3 and 9 are together in the picture, you always get 27. 8x4=32 is illustrated with Mrs. Snowman (number 8) climbing on a chair (number 4) to reach her 3 buttons and 2 mittens on the shelf, thus 8x4=3, 2 or 32. Once the stories for part 1 have been mastered, you use flashcards with the characters on them to reinforce the facts. This is followed by a test. The instruction manual that comes with the set contains all the flash cards and tests to use, plus additional crossword puzzles, discussion questions, and games for reviewing the clues.

If your child is a visual learner who has struggled with times tables I urge you to give this simple system a try. Not every child learns the multiplication tables by repeating boring facts aloud. Or by writing them over and over. Some children need to use word-picture association to recall facts and for such a child, I really believe this system could mean the difference between tears and success.


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