TOS Crew: Trigger Memory Systems

TOS Crew

I’d already been introduced to Trigger Memory Systems last summer at the homeschool curriculum fair. I kept coming back to the booth with the Bedroom Cleaning for Kids and Zone Cleaning for Kids flipcharts, to flip through the charts and think about our organizationally challenged family. (I know people whose children have clean bedrooms. I have no idea how they manage this.)

Perhaps I haven’t made it clear how remarkable these products are. You see, I very seldom buy items at the curriculum fair that aren’t already on my list. Impulse buys could cause me to blow my budget and not be able to afford the things I’ve already planned to buy!

…but after returning several times to page through these Clean ‘N’ Flip charts, I ended up buying the package deal.

These little books have a lot going for them. For one thing, it’s not Mom, nagging again, but rather a neutral source providing step-by-step instructions.

Zone Cleaning for Kids comes with a little instruction sheet that tells you how to use the laminated flip book with the included dry erase marker.  The book uses color coding (have I mentioned I love color coding?) to cover the steps in cleaning three zones in your home: living room, kitchen, and bathroom.

Here’s my take on using the guide:

– On-the-job training: Go through the checklist with the child you’re going to assign to this zone. Do the job together. You can also assign your own individualized task at this time, and add it to the checklist.

– Flying with an instructor: Next time that zone comes up on the cleaning schedule, follow the assigned child around, letting them do the job and only intervening when something’s not right.

– Soloing: Set the child loose in the zone. Inspect the work. (You’ve heard the old saying, “You get what you expect when you inspect.”) Repeat as needed.

There are pages in the book that allow you to assign zones to individuals or teams, and to assign specific completion times and frequency. For each zone there are daily tasks and also a series of “Day of the Week” jobs for once-a-week tasks, divided into Monday through Friday.

Easy to follow checklist format

Easy to follow text and colorful, illustrative pictures will help your young workers in their tasks. (But if your children are like mine, a neat checklist by itself is not enough. There’s got to be some Mama-motivating going on. That’s a nice name for nagging.)

Bedroom Cleaning for Kids takes you one step at a time through cleaning the bedroom. If your children’s bedrooms are disaster areas, you will probably need to help them de-junk before you can implement this cleaning procedure. I’d suggest the same training pattern as above: instruction, observation, and finally soloing followed by inspection.

The beauty of this guide is that it takes a dreaded task (“Clean your room!”) and breaks it down into manageable bites. I don’t know if you, like myself, have ever sent children to their room with firm admonition to clean the room, and not come out until the job is done. My children would grow old in the room, if I held them to this. I noticed, when I did this, that they didn’t have a clue what to do. They’d wander around like lost souls, pick up a few things, and then sit down to play with what they’d just picked up. It took some targeted instructions, (Bedroom Cleaning for Kids fits this description) for them to be able to manage an otherwise overwhelming, hopeless job.

Trigger Memory Systems has come out with some new products since I bought that package. One is Laundry for Kids, in the same step-by-step format. The pages aren’t laminated, making it easy to customize for your family. (We don’t use detergent by the scoop or half-scoop, for example, because we use homemade detergent due to our allergies. We also don’t have a buzzer on our dryer, so we have to set a timer in the kitchen when we start a load in the dryer.)

This is just the way I taught our children to do laundry, by writing out the steps, then walking them through a few loads. I started each one between age eight and ten, and now they all do their own laundry.

Zone Cleaning is available by itself at this link for $17.95, or packaged together (same link) with Bedroom Cleaning for $22.95; or you can get all three cleaning Flip ‘N’ Clean charts for $29.95.

Times Tales: Painless Multiplication Tables

Times Tales is another product I hadn’t seen before. It’s a different approach to learning the multiplication tables, using little stories and pictures to illustrate the facts. The pictures represent numbers, and when you put them together with the story you’ve got a memory-jogging math fact presented in a whimsical way that appeals to children.

Our youngest has had a lot of trouble memorizing multiplication facts. Drill didn’t work. Usage has worked somewhat; I mean, having her do her math with a multiplication table at her elbow, ready to refer to whenever needed. Lots of use leads to familiarity, and yet there are still those facts that don’t seem to want to settle, like 7 x 8. No matter how many times I tell her, or she looks it up, 7 x 8 just doesn’t settle in her brain.

But looking at 7 x 8 now, she can recall that “Mrs. Week and Mrs. Snowman were driving together and went one mile over the speed limit.” 56! It works!

I have to tell you, this is the most unusual approach I’ve seen to memorizing multiplication facts. I’ve had to take it on faith–go through the lessons as scripted in the Instruction Manual. The program includes flash cards, games, and review tests, but the real treasure is the imaginative approach.

Times Tales is available at this link. For $29.95 you get the Instruction Manual, which tells you exactly how to implement this unusual program and includes multiplication flashcards (plus bonus division flashcards), cut-out cubes for math games, and tests. You also get a large flip chart with the stories and pictures.

For an additional $5 you can get a mini-flip chart in a handy size for your student to use for review.

Thank you, Trigger Memory, for helping us solve two thorny problems (cleaning and math facts) for our family.

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