Times Tables; Fun ways to teach them

Contrary to popular thinking, I think times tables are one of the cornerstones of basic maths.

I’ll say at this point, it’s taken Issy 18 months to 2 years but she now knows her times tables inside out, upside down and back to front.

What are times tables?

Times tables are just a shorthand way of writing the repeated addition of a particular number. 

So how did we go about teaching them?

Issy is a visual and kinaesthetic learner; she needs to see it and feel it to understand it.

The key is little and often. We practise every day for no more than 5 or 10 minutes. It’s fun, practical, usually involves physical activity and is reinforced with real life scenarios. Issy uses her times tables when converting currencies, working out whether it’s better to accept a 3 for 2 deal or buy items individually or scaling up a recipe according to the number of portions she needs.

General Strategies
Workbooks/Worksheets

When we first set out about learning our times tables, I used a lot of the twinkl resources and in particular the times table booklets. She tackled a booklet every 7-14 days and we would reinforce it with the other strategies listed below.

Step Counting...literally

This is the starting point for most people and it involves reciting the multiples in a particular times tables eg. 2, 4, 6…22, 24.

More recently we’ve been combining this with walking or running up the stairs (obviously this is a bit difficult in the motorhome!)

Drawing the multiples in a big number

Draw a big number and write all the multiples in it and stick it up somewhere.

Songs

There are various song and dance based apps and resources available.  I know a lot of people use Times Table Rockstars. We didn’t, mainly because I found it quite expensive as a private individual.

When it comes to free resources, You Tube is your friend and we did use the Laugh Along and Learn channel which uses popular songs to learn times tables eg. the 6 times table is Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off  and 8 times table is Adele’s Rolling in the Deep (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_BJjR9rdwA)

Issy also liked the song that she used at school

CHS good as gold, this is how our fingers roll, the *[threes] 3,6,9…30, we’re no finished yet 33, 36, this is how roll our *[threes].

*substitute any times table

Physical Activity

Issy enjoyed the BBC Sport Supermovers videos and these are particular good for the football mad amongst you as they are supported by football club mascots.

We often practise whilst out walking, on a swing at the park or throwing a ball (apparently this develops the same neural pathways as learning maths).

Learn and Recite them in groups

We’d already learnt our times tables by the time I learnt this hack but we now recite our times tables in groups of 2/4/8, 3/6/12, 5/10/11 and 7/9.

This helps to solidify the relationship between the multiples and provides a strategy to work out any that you are unsure of using information you already know.

Strategies for Specific Times Tables
Counting Coins

We collected 2p,5p, 10p, 20p and 50p coins and counted the number of pennies in each pile.

As we advanced we’d roll two dice to decide how many would be in the pile and Issy would give me the answer.

Using your 2 times table knowledge to work out your 4 times table (double, double)

The 4 times table is double the 2 times table. If you know what 2 times a number is, you just need to double it to get 4 times a number.

Using a clock to learn the 5 times table

A clock is a ready-made tool for learning the 5 times table. Point to a number and ask how many minutes past the hour it is.

Using your 3 times table knowledge to work out your 6 times table (double threes)

The 6 times table is double the 3 times table. If you know what 3 times a number is, you just need to double it to get 6 times a number.

Using your 4 times table knowledge to work out your 8 times table (double fours)

The 8 times table is double the 4 times table. If you know what 4 times a number is, you just need to double it to get 8 times a number.

The Finger Method for 9 times table

This is a great one for all you visual learners out there.

Number patterns for 9 times table

As the tens digit goes up, the units digit goes down

Number patterns for 10 times table

You add a zero to the number you are multiplying ten by

Using your 6 times table knowledge to work out your 12 times table (double sixes)

The 12 times table is double the 6 times table. If you know what 6 times a number is, you just need to double it to get 12 times a number.

I know them...now what?

Even though I’m confident Issy knows them, we still practise every day and once a month she has a times tables test. She’s seeing the benefit now she’s tackling long division and more complicated multiplication.

In all seriousness, I do credit my times table knowledge to my maths teacher Mr Moore who gave us a times table test every Tuesday morning when I was in Year 7! It really is a case of practise makes perfect.

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