Times to Remember began the spring of 2002 with a pencil, a notebook, and a mother’s determination to teach her struggling son the basic multiplication tables. Sandra Warren, a high-school biology teacher with a Masters of Science degree in education, was inspired by her love for her children. A mother of three, including one with special needs, Sandra was continually seeking innovative ways to help her children learn. So, for her son she created simple rhymes and sketches based on the shape of the factors (multipliers) and the sound of the product (the answer).
“These were not only fun for him, they were working,” said Sandra, explaining that the strength of Times to Remember is in its simplicity. “These illustrated rhymes provided simple visual and auditory connections from the unfamiliar and abstract to the familiar and concrete.”
“Like most 3, 4th and 5th graders, my students struggled with multiplication. Since they loved to sing and dance, I’d sketch an illustration on the board and have them stand and clap as we’d sing the rhymes. Weekly test scores shot up. Parents were asking about the rhymes, wondering where they could buy the book. Finding nothing on the market like it, I knew I had to get it out there.”
The Development Process
“The Dominican Republic was the perfect testing ground for an American product because of our growing Latino population,” said Sandra. “Some of the rhymes were changed to reflect a more inclusive culture. For example, students didn’t understand one of the rhymes, which included a reference to temperature when rain changes to snow. They were as unfamiliar to snow as they were to Fahrenheit. The student came up with a better rhyme and graciously allowed me to use it in Times to Remember. “
Sandra refined the sketches and ideas and took them to a local artist, Juan José Vásquez, whose talent brought them to life. “Juan José spoke little English, and I spoke little Spanish. Our four-year relationship not only pulled the book together, but also improved our bi-lingual skills,” said Sandra adding, “I feel very thankful for Juan José’s gifts and talents, as well as his patience though out the process. “
Since the illustrations were a critical component to the product, Sandra continually tweaked them based on the feedback from teachers, the special-services department, and especially from students.
“The students gave amazing advice!,” said Sandra, explaining how Cynthia, a 5th grader, helped to simplify the background of some of the illustrations after spending several hours scrutinizing them with an amazingly professional eye. Jake, a 2nd grader, loved the hidden numbers and wanted more. They were soon added after other children agreed.”
After 12 years of living in the Dominican Republic the Warren family was called to Michigan for a job change for Mr. Warren.
“We had a move, a job change, and our daughter’s wedding all at the same time. We were just catching our breath in September when my good friend Cheryl called and said “Don’t set it aside again Sandy. Keep going, its almost done.”
“I knew she was right, so over the last several months I have been extremely busy. If I’m not at the computer, I’m meeting with the book designer, the graphic specialist, editors, printing companies, a web builder, a marketing team and more. Now, as I get set to release Times to Remember to the public I can truly sing my favorite rhyme.”
Nine times Nine Hooray we’re done!! 9×9 =81