Times tables… the part of maths that is causing many teachers sleepless nights.
How can we help children remember their tables?
This new multiplication check will make more workload for us!
The children just don’t seem to remember them!
I feel your pain! Families are busier than ever, with children using technology more than they ever have before. The school day is tight to fit everything in during the busy term. But… you can use this to your advantage to help children learn their tables. Here are some top tips.
Simple, yet effective in terms of remembering the facts. How they are said can make a big difference too. Get the children to whisper them, sound like the Queen or be noisy. Make saying them fun by singing them. Saying them in a tune can help the children too. Of course, this doesn’t help towards a deeper understanding of the tables, but can help with speed of calculating them or noticing any patterns. Saying the calculations in full can also be a useful way for the children to remember them.
At the start of each term, each class at my school has a new times table to learn. We start with a blank number line that the class will build up over a week.
The following day (or when the children are ready), we would move on to the x3, x6, x9 and x12. Next would be x5 and x10. Finally, we would include the lonely few: x0, x7 and x11.
Match Them Up!
A simple matching game can be great fun. This could be through using number cards, written on the board with squares covering them or using the interactive whiteboard. You need 0 – 12 and then the multiples of the times table that you are working on. Have the cards turned over (or the numbers covered). Children pick two cards. If they match, the child has to say the calculation in full to win the cards. The opponent can ‘steal’ the cards if they say the calculation first (a great bit of competition then to find the matches and say the calculation the quickest!).
Inside Out and Back to Front!
Something that throws children can be when the answer is at the beginning, or if there is a missing number in the calculation.
E.g. 21 = ___ x 7, or ____ = 7 x 4.
So, expose them to this early. After the chanting and the number line activities, the missing boxes or answers at the beginning can be a great way to test who has a good understanding of these tables. My class love a quick challenge of: who can answer these 5 questions first? All of which have a missing number and I ensure that the answer is at the beginning of each calculation. Because they become focused on wanting to be quick to answer them, the fear of the questions ‘looking different’ disappears!
Just 5 minutes
Just 5 minutes everyday can make a real difference. It doesn’t matter what the children do, so long as they’re practising. It is part of our maths lessons now. Without fail, we practise in some way, everyday. We focus on the same times table for at least 4 weeks. At least once a week, we also recap a times table that we have already practised before, just to keep it ticking over.
In my next blog, 5 more top tips for times tables practise 🙂