Danica McKellar’s kids’ book teaches math the new way and the old way, for parents


Danica McKellar is promoting her tenth math book, The Times Machine: Learn multiplication and division like yesterday. It’s aimed at teaching multiplication and division to grades 2 to 5 and their parents, who often have trouble grasping the new ways of teaching math. Danica did an interview with Access Hollywood’s Kit Hoover, where she also talked about her work with the Hallmark channel making Christmas movies. I normally would not report on her but she pulled me in with her enthusiasm for math plus she had some good tips for homeschooling. She has one son, Draco, who is nine.

On how her new book teaches math
I teach math the way it’s taught now and also the way we learned it because it’s different. One of the things I keep hearing from parents – we’re having such a problem in math because it looks different. I do the problems both ways and then I’ll show you how it’s really the same stuff, dressed up differently.

Her tips for homeschooling
No toys in the area, unless you want your child to explain a concept to a toy. If [my son[ is having a hard time focusing [I have him teach to the toy]. He becomes the teacher and he will explain things I didn’t know he was listening to.

The timer trick is not to make kids go faster because that’s pressure. I’ll tell [my son] we’re going to do two and half good hours of homeschooling today. I’ll set a timer for two and a half hours. Every time you get distracted I’ll hit pause. This can take six hours if you want it to. The kids are motivated themselves to stay focused. You don’t have to plead with them. It’s about using a timer to keep them focused.

On her Hallmark movies
I miss making my Hallmark movies. There’s been so many restrictions these days I’m just focusing on my books and waiting for the movies to start back up again. [The Matchmaker Mysteries] have been delayed and we’re also trying to figure out the Christmas movie situation.

[From Access Hollywood]

Hallmark is now doing Christmas in July. Danica said her movie, Christmas in Dollywood, started because Dolly Parton brought one of her math books into her Imagination Library, which has distributed over 133 million books to children in need. That’s how Danica got the idea to pitch Dollywood as a setting for her Hallmark movie. My mom watches Hallmark constantly so I asked her comment on this and she said that Danica is getting better at her Hallmark movies over time.

As for Danica’s new book, fourth to fifth grade was around the time I started feeling completely clueless about my son’s math. I knew how to do it the “old” way, but when I tried to figure out the new method I felt so dumb and he had to explain it to me. Luckily my son is motivated in math and was able to do a lot on his own through YouTube and Khan Academy. I’m thinking of those of you doing homeschooling now with younger kids like this. I’ve heard so many stories about how tough it is.

Here’s that interview:

I was checking out Danica’s Instagram and thought this outfit was so cute and inventive. Then I read the caption. Those are her pajama pants! That’s adorable and somehow this works.

View this post on Instagram

And… today's "home studio" fashion features a bright orange Hugo Boss v-neck dress paired with an orange-and-gold necklace and silky, flower-covered pajama bottoms! . . . I'm not saying that I've begun to think about coordinating my pjs with my next-day book promotion outfit… but I'm also not *not* saying that. 😅 . . . Today at 4pmPT/7pmET I'm doing a live, virtual crowdcast book signing with @anunlikelystory and I'll be able to personalize autographs to you – no extra charge beyond the price of the book!! Be sure to sign up at the link in my bio. 😎 . . . And thank you to those who have been sending pics of your kids with my @mckellarmath books, and I've been seeing the most amazing reviews on Amazon and more – I'm beyond thrilled that your kids are having fun learning their multiplication facts with the silly cartoons in The Times Machine. Yay!! . . . Sending you all a big HUG on this beautiful Wednesday. 🤗 Hope to see lots of you tonight at the book signing!

A post shared by Danica McKellar (@danicamckellar) on

She did it a few more times! There are two more photos on her Instagram of her pairing pajama bottoms with dresses. I want cuter pajama pants.

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13 Responses to “Danica McKellar’s kids’ book teaches math the new way and the old way, for parents”

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  1. MaryContrary says:

    I’ve always used the timer with my kids-it really helps with focusing (especially if your kid has ADHD). I’m gearing up for a year of homeschooling with my 11 year old-I’m thankful he’s really good at math, because how I learned it vs today’s common core is a disaster.

    • Kate says:

      It sounds like a good idea, except I envision my kids just perpetually procrastinating until it’s like dinnertime. They are 3 and 5 though and it has been very tough to get them to both concentrate at the same time on something other than toys or crafts. I think it would be much easier giving my 5-year old a lesson without her 3-year old brother running around demanding attention. And it’s hard catering to their different needs when they perceive it as being “unfair” – like for my 3 year old playing with small legos builds fine motor skills but then 5 year old is like why do I have to do a phonics workbook while he’s playing. That kind of thing. Sigh.

      • VSK says:

        I sooo hear you, Kate! Mine are 5 and 8 and my 8 year old constantly complains that the little one has way less to do when it comes to schooling. It is hard to explain to her that she did not do a lot of math when she was 5 either. Home schooling is a b!tch, specially when both parents are working from home full time. I fully acknowledge the fact that that we are very lucky to be employed during these crazy times, but pretending to be a teacher for two different grades is no walk in the park. I cannot wait for day when are back in school (SAFELY!).

  2. lucy2 says:

    That’s a good idea, the book with both methods. I bet she does well with it, especially as parents are looking at home schooling again this fall.
    Love her pj bottoms! I didn’t know she was still doing acting work, it’s great she’s managed both professions well.

  3. Huit says:

    I highly recommend the ‘Maths No Problem!’ series. They are The Best Maths Books Ever. Based on the Singapore Method of teaching maths and follows the UK standard curriculum but anyone anywhere could use. I have been using during lockdown to homeschool my eight year old and it completely changed maths for her. I recommended to a friend and her child asks to do it. I think the series covers elementary thru high school. Well designed and uses common sense. Maths problems traditionally solved using algebra, utilise logic instead so that even Grade 2’s can solve ‘algebra problems’.

  4. Tiffany says:

    Danica’s PhD is in mathematics, right?

    This is her wheelhouse and good for her. As I do not have children I will be more than happy to buy these books and donate them.

  5. VIV says:

    Her math books are great! I, embarrassingly, had to re-teach myself non-Excel math for some standardized testing and they helped so much. They’re easy to follow and have relevant examples that, from a kid’s prospective, I would think help to understand why you should know math, and when you would use it.

  6. Ae says:

    Yeesh, I better order this as I’ll be homeschooling 3 kiddos this fall.

  7. stormsmama says:

    thank you for writing about thiS! I love her and had forgotten about her books. I just ordered the Times Machine for me and my daughter :) thanks

  8. Mia LeTendre says:

    How is there a new way to multiply amd divide???

    • Fiona says:

      Google cluster and lattice methods.

      And then try not to want to bang your head against the nearest wall at the ridiculous way we’ve been teaching math for that past 20+ years.

  9. Juniper says:

    I second the Khan Academy. I had to relearn math for the GRE. He explains concepts very well.

  10. Marigirl says:

    Interesting! I have zero kids but I was terrible at math and maybe I should give it a go and re-learn now with no pressure. Also, the technique of explaining something to an inanimate object is super common in the tech industry. Developers tend to have a rubber duck in their desks and when they mess up the code they can walk the ducky through what they’ve done and that way figure out what went wrong.