Of course I want to faciltate students' understandingof why 4 x 5 = 20 (indeed, that is why I have students construct arrays when we introduce multiplication), but at the same time, once that initial “a-ha” moment happens for them, I also want to ensure automaticity, so that students are not held back from solving bigger problems by being overwhelmed with small details like having to struggle with basic calculations.
I can't help but wonder: If a child can memorise and perform with delight a lengthy and detailed sequence of dance moves and lyrics, could music not be used to also help them memorise, in a fun way, addition and multiplication facts? I decided to do a little research to find out...
Coolmath for Kids seemed like a popular choice on iTunes, but even after giving 3 different songs a try, I just didn’t think I could stomach it for any length of time (I’m an 80s Rock kind of gal, also seriously into Jazz, Baroque and Classical music… the “hip hop” style, whiny-voiced tunes on this album just weren’t going work for me!!!)
Next I tried Aardvaark Kids. I was very impressed with the thematic nature of their song titles: The Zero Property and Skip Counting Song both sounded promising, but when I gave them a listen, I found them a little beyond “learn and memorize”, and more into “elevator” or background music style which, again, I couldn’t see using in my classroom (I typically play Bach’s piano partitas, performed by Glenn Gould, when students are working on math in my class).
Hip Hop and Rap seemed to be the genre of choice for this sort of thing…. I was looking for something with more of a melody – something that would stick, not unlike nursery rhymes like 3 Blind Mice, or Twinkle Twinkle (the ABC Song!) The Dave Cash Collection seemed to offer this, but the voice singing the lyrics was a little, well, er… un-cool, to be honest.
Karl Roemer showed some promise, though his lyrics were a bit “bigger picture” – I was looking for something simple, 3 x 5 = 15 sung to a catchy, simple little tune.
Stephen MacDonald’s Songs for Math seemed like they might work, so I decided to download the album and give them a try with my students. Stay tuned for more…