Best of Times: Math Strategies that Multiply

Overview


NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Greg Tang takes on the times tables, teaching kids innovative ways to multiply numbers and derive answers WITHOUT memorization.

Four is very fast to do when you multiply by 2.
Here's a little good advice --
please just always double twice!

BEST OF TIMES gives kids an intuitive understanding of multiplication, encouraging them to arrive at ...

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Overview


NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Greg Tang takes on the times tables, teaching kids innovative ways to multiply numbers and derive answers WITHOUT memorization.

Four is very fast to do when you multiply by 2.
Here's a little good advice --
please just always double twice!

BEST OF TIMES gives kids an intuitive understanding of multiplication, encouraging them to arrive at answers on their own rather than memorizing the times tables. A child who can multiply by two, for instance, can multiply by four and even eight! Likewise, times six builds on times two and times three.With his common-sense approach, Greg Tang encourages kids to solve problems creatively, building both their skills and their confidence.

Simple rhymes offer hints on how to multiply any number by zero through ten without memorizing the multiplication tables.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If you're looking for a fun and fast way to learn multiplication (instead of memorizing times tables), look no further! Author Greg Tang and artist Harry Briggs have put together an irresistible picture book that lets multiplying be as easy as 1-2-3.

In Tang's introduction, he explains that by using his techniques -- along with "being clever and using a little common sense" -- children will easily go beyond the basic times tables and develop an "intuitive understanding of multiplication." His methods are right on. In simple rhymes, Tang explains the fundamentals of how each number from 1 to 10 works. His poem "Four Eyes," for example, explains how any number multiplied by four can be merely doubled twice: "Four is very fast to do, when you multiply by 2. Here's a little good advice -- please just always double twice!" He then goes on to explain: "What is 4x4? It's 4 doubled twice. Double once: 4+4=8. Double twice: 8+8=16," and he even provides extra challenge questions below. All of his poems and problems are just as easy (e.g., a number times 6 is tripled, then doubled; a number times 9 is multiplied by 10, then subtracted once), and the book is rounded out with full practice tables in the back.

Tang provides children with an excellent lesson, helping them make sense of daunting math without a bombardment of complicated rules. Kids will cheer his winsome presentation, which is wonderfully complemented by Harry Brigg's computer illustrations of animals cavorting around and having fun. Both practical and pleasing, The Best of Times is math that'll help make homework and tests a breeze. Matt Warner

From the Publisher

This upbeat picture book, presenting multiplication using numbers from zero through ten, is illustrated with often humorous pictures of animals engaged in activities such as fishing, painting, dancing. For every factor in the times table, Tang supplies a mnemonic rhyme, such as "Six is pretty quick to do, / just multiply by 3 then 2. / If this sounds like too much trouble, / triple first before you double!" and "Seven doesn't take much time, / even though it is a prime. / Here is all you have to do, / first times 5 then add times 2!" For the many people wondering if it isn't easier to memorize the times tables, Tang notes, "Instead, wouldn't it be great if by understanding math better you could learn to multiply numbers of any size, not just the ones you memorize?" Along the way, his playful juggling of numbers and the clearly laid out equations and visual explanations may help children learn to calculate more easily in their heads, see the patterns implied, and understand what they are doing when they multiply numbers. Encouraging rhymes and colorful, jaunty illustrations bolster the multiplication lesson.--Booklist, November 1st, 2002

A multiplication book that really adds up. Snappy rhymes and problems to solve, going from 0 to 10, with one number per spread, offer valuable strategies that will help develop number sense. However, some terms, such as thrice and precise, might require a bit of clarification. "Prime" is mentioned in relation to the number seven but not defined and not necessary for the strategy given. Briggs's humorous cartoon illustrations in bold, flat colors add to the book's appeal. Overall, this title would enhance math units and would be a fun read-aloud.--School Library Journal, September 2002

The team behind The Grapes of Math and Math for All Seasons follows up with a third title for aspiring mathematicians: The Best of Times: Math Strategies That Multiply by Greg Tang, illus. by Harry Briggs. Tang eschews multiplication tables in favor of emphasizing a better understanding of numbers and quantities. Bouncy, rhyming ditties remind kids, among other things, that 0 times anything is zero ("For every problem it's the same,/ zilch or zero is its name!") Briggs's cheery signature artwork, featuring an active menagerie, keeps the concepts clear and the mood light.--Publishers Weekly, August 19th 2002

Tang would like to take the memorization out of the multiplication tables and insert some understanding. Play with the numbers, he suggests, get to know them and their relationships; use a little common sense. Here, critters of all stripes break the tables down into more digestible bits. Set in splashy, saturated color, zippy little quatrains introduce each table and explain his approach: "Two is very fast and fun, / quickly double and you're done. / What's that you say, be more precise? / Okay then, just add it twice." When the tack taken is straightforward and simple enough, it reveals the workings of multiplication, as when the fours tables are understood as doubled twice, or the fives tables as half of the tens. Sometimes, though, things can get a little unwieldy: "Seven doesn't take much time, / even though it is a prime. / Here is all you have to do, / first times 5 then add times 2." That's a lot to keep in your head, and memorization may seem less trouble. But Tang's hope is that through these math autopsies, readers will grasp the mechanics at work and bury their math anxieties.--Kirkus Reviews, July 15th 2002

Publishers Weekly
The team behind The Grapes of Math and Math for All Seasons follows up with a third title for aspiring mathematicians: The Best of Times: Math Strategies That Multiply by Greg Tang, illus. by Harry Briggs. Tang eschews multiplication tables in favor of emphasizing a better understanding of numbers and quantities. Bouncy, rhyming ditties remind kids, among other things, that 0 times anything is zero ("For every problem it's the same,/ zilch or zero is its name!") Briggs's cheery signature artwork, featuring an active menagerie, keeps the concepts clear and the mood light.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-4-A multiplication book that really adds up. Snappy rhymes and problems to solve, going from 0 to 10, with one number per spread, offer valuable strategies that will help develop number sense. However, some terms, such as thrice and precise, might require a bit of clarification. "Prime" is mentioned in relation to the number seven but not defined and not necessary for the strategy given. Briggs's humorous cartoon illustrations in bold, flat colors add to the book's appeal. Overall, this title would enhance math units and would be a fun read-aloud.-Barbara L. McMullin, Casita Center for Technology, Science & Math, Vista, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439210447
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/12/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 93,627
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.38 (w) x 10.28 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Greg Tang
Q. How did you get started on your mission to change the way kids think about math?

A. Several years ago, I went back to school to become a high school math teacher. While I was student teaching in New York City, I realized that many of the difficulties my students were having with algebra could be traced back to the way they were taught arithmetic, through repetition and memorization. I also came to believe that this traditional way of teaching was the reason why many students did not like or enjoy math. I set out to try to change things, and since then have been working to develop an intuitive approach to math that is based on common sense, creative thinking, and fun!

Q. Your books all use riddles and art to "teach" math, which is a very different approach than in most classrooms. Why do you think this approach is important?

A. I think that for kids to be good in anything, including math, they've got to like it. So we need to do our best to make math fun and exciting. When we teach reading we use storybooks filled with colorful pictures. When we teach science we conduct lively, hands-on experiments. In teaching math, I believe integrating language and art is critical. Words and images have the power to communicate mathematical reasoning and insight, and at the same time make connections to a world of things -- nature, science, stories, and art -- that matter to kids. I use poems in my books because I think kids enjoy and appreciate clever rhymes. I also think it's important to add a game element to learning, which I incorporate through riddles.

Q. Of the three books you've published so far, two titles, The Grapes of Math and The Best of Times are for ages 7-10, and one, Math for All Seasons, is for ages 5-8. How do you see kids at these different age levels using these books?

A. Math For All Seasons is great for younger kids (ages 5-8) who are making the transition from counting to arithmetic. This book teaches intuitive ways to group and add numbers, and begins laying the foundation for higher math by introducing simple but important problem-solving strategies. For kids who are a little older (7-10), The Grapes of Math offers a fun and challenging way to sharpen both computational and problem-solving skills. Kids (and adults!) seem to really enjoy solving the riddles, which are also designed to help smooth the transition from adding to multiplying. When kids are ready for multiplication, The Best of Times (ages 7-10) offers an intuitive approach to mastering the times tables. Instead of taking a short-term strategy based on repetition and memorization, the focus of this book is on helping children develop a deeper level of understanding. This book teaches kids to multiply numbers of any size quickly in their heads, and from my experience, they really have fun doing it!

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2002

    A Wonderful Teacher Resource

    The Best of Times is a wonderful teacher resource to introduce the concept of multiplication and ideal for parents to read with their own kids. What I like most about this book is that it teaches children to work out problems, to make connections, and to use different strategies, rather than to rely on the mundane process of memorization of math facts. By solely memorizing facts, no learning takes place! And students won't be able to transfer their learning to different situations that they come across. To be a successful problem-solver, students need a bank of strategies to draw from - this book meets that need. Greg Tang has the wonderful gift of making math "make sense" for kids!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2004

    Makes math fun

    A book that teaches math using rhymes and puzzles kids enjoy figuring out. A popular book in our school library, with groups of kids often working out the problems together.

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