Teaching Times Tables

Today I am writing my first blog post for the Australian Teacher’s Blog, having recently joined the list of collaborators. A little about me; I am Alison from Teaching Maths with Meaning. I have been teaching for 11 years and started off loving Maths and Science, but now I am a lover of all things Primary Education! I am currently on family leave, spending time at home with my toddler, but I am relief teaching throughout the week to keep my hand in the game. I love teaching everyday I get the chance, teacher for life!
Teaching Maths with Meaning

Today I want to talk about multiplication, specifically the teaching of Times Tables. We all have those students who love daily times tables tests, quickly remembering sums and recording them. As the days go on, they move up to the next level and get faster and faster. But what happens to those who are stuck on the x2 tables day after day? Perhaps they are slow, maybe they struggle memorising facts, maybe they know the answers just have trouble recording them? Whatever it is that holds these children back, should it be held against them everyday?

I believe learning times tables by rote definitely has a place in the classroom. I have taught so many students who love the challenge and get excited by daily tests. But the other students concern me, if I ignore their needs do they go onto Grade 5/6 and High School not knowing how to solve simple multiplication sums?

So what can we do? My biggest tip is get to know the multiplication sums individually, look at the numbers and look at the patterns. Memorising sums or songs may help some students, but may not help everyone in your class.

Forming arrays are where the discussion of multiplication begins. Students learn this skill in Foundation and gradually build on their understanding. At the beginning of your discussion on Timestables, you could teach the game Array Boxes – it’s a great reminder for students, as well as fun to see the game board fill up. Also head to NZ Maths for a great activity on Multiplication Stories. 

Skip Counting
Then I explicitly teach students to use skip counting to solve multiplication sums, we even use our fingers! Skip Counting can be done as a warm up verbally, written down on whiteboards or using the repeated addition on a calculator. Simply enter 5+5= on a calculator then continue to push =. It will skip count. Ask students to shut their eyes and press = until you tell them to stop, they love the competition! It leads to great discussion also.

So with skip counting we can check off
x2 tables = done!
x5 tables = done!
x10 tables = done!

Double Double
Approaching the 4 times tables as a double double is a great strategy. So if students know 2x4 = 8, then double it and they know 4x4 = 16, 2x10 = 20 so 4x10 = 40 therefore Double Double!

x4 tables = done!

This approach can also be used for the x6 times tables if student's know the x3 times tables. 3x6 = 18 which means 6x6 must equal double 18.

x6 tables = done!

This strategy can also be used for the 12 times tables but there are easier ways.

Visual Strategies
There are some great videos on youtube teaching times tables strategies. I particularly like this one for the 3 times tables. By creating a simple grid, you can show the pattern when counting by 3. The same presenter has a video for learning x7 tables which is equally as easy!

x3 tables = done!
x7 tables = done!

Times tables charts are on display in my classroom and students are encouraged to use them. If we are completing a longer multiplication sum, students can show me they understand the process and get the answer correct, even if they can't memorise their sums.

We all know the x9 trick using your fingers - I often see students using this strategy in class time. If you are unsure about it check out this explanation.

x9 tables = done!

11 Times Tables = Easy!
Students often find the 11 times tables fun and easy and can quickly recall the double of the number, until the reach 11x10.

x11 tables = done!

Addition assisting Multiplication
When teaching the 12 times tables, simply break the sum up. If student's know their 10 times tables and know their 2 times tables, then they can solve any 12 times tables problem.
12 x 4 =
10 x 4 = 40
2 x 4 = 8
So 40 + 8 = 48 therefore 12 x 4 = 48

3 for Free
Teaching students the strategy of 3 for Free helps them understand that if they know
3 multiply 4 = 12
They also know
4 multiply 3 = 12
12 divided by 4 = 3
12 divided by 3 = 4
Using this strategy will give students double the number of times tables. You can learn more about this strategy here

Some Resources You Might Like

This art/maths activity is based on skip counting where student’s draw lines to create circular patterns. Discuss the different patterns different numbers make. Students will be able to visually see the link between different sets of timetables.

Find out more about the 3 for Free Strategy in this pack, where you can purchase fact family cards to use in games and in class activities.

Check out this Times Tables Pack from Paula's Place or Times Table Posters from Miss Jacob's Little Learners for posters, checklists and activities. 

I hope you found this blog post useful, until next time,



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