Times Tables - Tricks/Tips

(47 Posts)

DD7 is bright and does well at school. Her concentration is pretty poor however and she finds her mind wanders if she is either finding the work too easy or conversely can't do it 'straight away'

We are really struggling with times tables. I have been trying to teach her 'prolly parrot' fashion as this how I learned as a child and it worked for me. It's not working. She can chant he way through them but I know she is 'adding' in her head because the minute I throw random tables at her, she crumbles.

Does anyone have any tips!ideas? I am wondering if there are any 'cool songs/rapsblush that might help? Websites/CDs?

Anything that worked for you


marmiteandhoney Sun 06-Jan-13 16:27:06

I still use my fingers for my 9x if I need fast recall.

Hold out your hands in front of you. For 1 x 9 fold down your 1st finger. Everything to the right of that finger is units; to the left is tens. So, 1 x 9 = 9.

For 2 x 9, fold down your 2nd finger. You'll see there is one finger to the left of your folded finger, and eight to the right of it. So, 2 x 9 = 18.

Fold your 3rd finger for 3x9, and you can read off 2 tens and 7 units, so 27.


Annoyingly of course it only works up to 10x9, but you can then just learn the other two answers.

vjg13 Sun 06-Jan-13 19:29:21

Carol Vorderman Maths Factor times tables school is excellent.

LingDiLongMerrilyonHigh Sun 06-Jan-13 20:06:47

SlightlyJaded, take a look on YouTube, I found a fair few songs on there. What we also did was make a giant hopscotch grid in the garden and I'd get her to hop down it while she chanted the timestables as she's very visual. Then I'd shout out random questions and she'd have to hop to the answer. She loved it!

Maybe ask the teacher too, they might have some methods they use in class that you could do at home?

oooh thanks. Will look at the Carol Vorderman thingy and try YouTube. She is a natural show off entertainer which is why I thought songs etc but the hop scotch idea is a good one too.

This has some good ideas for visual learners that get bored with learning-by-rote approaches.

HappyTurquoise Sun 06-Jan-13 20:25:28

We had books with wipable pages and a marker pen and a CD which we it had on in the car for long journeys. DDs had to be quick to fill in the answers on the page, and they learned the songs.

Look at times tables squares, and fill in the patterns for each table. Go through them all in order. Play basic easy games, which make the whole thing visual, or incorporate an action (like throwing a ball) as well as saying and writing the numbers.

Then start with the easiers (10x, 2x, 5x) then go on to 3x and 4x, then 6x, 8x and 9x (using the tips/tricks) then 7x.

As well as good tests and quiz websites online, there are a few good DS games which help with mental maths.

DieWilde13 Sun 06-Jan-13 20:31:25

My dcs love the Percy Parker songs. We have also downloaded a few free ipad apps which they get to play "if they are good".

I think the apps are more effective than the songs.

alanyoung Tue 08-Jan-13 20:03:27

Don't teach them by rote, chanting or singing. Instead, go to www.timestables4u.com where you can download a Parents' Manual and Student Workbook based on a much faster method which has been tried and tested in several schools. It's completely free, but please make sure you read the Parents Manual right through before you get your children working on the Student Workbook - that's very important. As a teacher of mathematics for over thirty years, I cannot over emphasise how important tables are.

If your children know the tables really well, they will be well ahead of other children of similar ability when they come to tackling more difficult work in upper primary and lower secondary schools. Good luck.

drzeus Tue 08-Jan-13 22:01:53

Percy Parker - love it. My DS1 (11) and DS2 (9) both love the songs and are now really confident at times tables and mental maths.

Elibean Tue 08-Jan-13 22:42:25

Percy Parker is wonderful, and my 6 year old adores the songs and knows most of them.

But my 9 year old dd really cracked her times tables when we loaded Squeebles on to the iPad....

mummyplonk Tue 08-Jan-13 23:53:23

Great tips here, ds7 is struggling as had to learn his 7 times table over Christmas. I was talking to a Mum at school today asking her how her son got on and she said he had to learn his 14! Times table over Christmas as he knows all the others. Judging by the above posts her son is g & t, I was beginning to think ds was really behind phew.

jomidmum Wed 09-Jan-13 08:04:29

I'd also recommend Carol Vordemanns material, it's helping DD so much. The on-line times table school is £20 and worth every penny.

carocaro Wed 09-Jan-13 20:09:26

Stand up, use and her use your arms and your legs, shout, waving your hands about, tap your feet, get into a rythm, large motor skills movement really help, beleive me, DS in Y6 all move and stomp about the classroom, shout loudly and hs is S**T HOT at times tables and it conly clicked for him when he could move as he learned them in Y3

pellshky Thu 10-Jan-13 08:08:19

For each table write the answers out on 12 pieces of card eg for 7 times table, 7,14,21,28 etc. Lay the pieces out on the table and call out eg 5x7, 7x7 and ask her to point at the correct answer - then turn over the card. This worked really well for my children and once they had learned them I periodically gave them speed tests.

I created a free android app that does the same thing as the cards
and when you are ready for speed tests I have an online app, also free.

PastSellByDate Thu 10-Jan-13 09:31:22

Hi slightlyjaded

agree with vjg13 that mathsfactor (link here: www.themathsfactor.com/) is a very visual way or learning mathematics. We use the arithmetic school - so are doing all calculations/ factions/ decimals/ etc.... but as vjg13 has said there is a multiplication school for just times tables.

One thing I would say is use the times tables families to your advantage when practicing at home.

Probably your DD has already mastered x1, x2, x5 and x10.

So try x3 next.

Then review the idea of doubling (x2). This will help with either doing the 2s family (2, 4 and 8) and will help with x6 (double x3).

x9 (finger method as marmiteandhoney suggested above) - or have her look at the pattern of answers:

1 x 9 = 09
2 x 9 = 18
3 x 9 = 27
4 x 9 = 36

Note two things - the tens column is always one less that whatever number you are multiplying 9 by. And the total of the digit in the tens columns + the digit in the units column always = 9. So if you are multiplying 7 x 9 - you know the answer starts with 6 and the units must be whatever number + 6 = 9 - so 3. Therefore 7 x 9 = 63.

Once you've learned all that: you basically know 7 x 1 through 7 x 6 and 7 x8 through 7x10. So you only need to learn 7 x 7 = 49 and you know your 7s table to x10.

It's up to you if you add 11 in 12. Frankly it's worth it. Especially if you ever work in dozens or with imperial measurements (inches).

11 is great fun because up to 9 you just write the number down twice. After 9 there is a trick:

With numbers > 10 - separate the ten from the unit - in the space between add the numbers and that's your answer (you may have to carry if number in middle >9)

examples: 23 x 11 = (2) (2 + 3) (3) = 253

39 x 11 = (3) (3+9) (9)
(3+ carried 1) (2) (9) = 429

Once you know times tables 1 - 11 then learning 12 is easy because it's only 2 more (11 x 12 - use number trick & 12 x 12). With twelves you can break it down - so 10 x whatever number + 2 x whatever number - to check/ work it out.

If your DD likes video games - we found that Timez Attack (link to games here: www.bigbrainz.com/ really helped. It works out where your child is at and starts from that point. The game has you go through a dungeons and dragons type platform with your child (as a little ogre) traveling through solving multiplication problems. These are presented as multiple additions and then reviewed as a straightforward multiplication problem. They're so busy playing the game they don't realise they're learning. They also have a division game (inverse multiplication) for the next step. There are several versions to buy - but you can just play a 2 platform free version which we found was fine.


PastSellByDate Thu 10-Jan-13 09:34:32

Sorry slightlyjaded:

forgot to explain doubling fully.

So once you know x2 and understand doubling - x4 is a doddle.

Instead of guessing x4 - try it as x2 and then double again.

So if it is 10 x 4 - try it as 10 x 2 = 20 and then double it - so 40.

Same thing with x8 - but you double twice.

7 x 8 - try it as 7 x 2 = 14 - double it = 28 and double again = 56.

It may help to have them add on paper, if mental arithmetic is tricky for them.

Same idea with 3 and 6 (with x6 effectively doubling x3).

So 6 x 8 = could be thought of as 3 x 8 = 24 and then doubled = 48.


Msbluebozooka Wed 16-Jan-13 12:44:46

KUMON. has anyone heard of Kumon and if so would you recommend it?

marcopront Wed 16-Jan-13 16:17:19

If you have an ipad or iphone there is an app called "PerfectTimes" which seems very good.

Sorry for not coming back sooner. Bit of a family drama last week. Thank you all so much for taking the time to explain your various methods - I really appreciate it.

We will start trying a few out and see what works best for her.

Honestly - I can't believe the level of detail some of you went in to. Thanks so much thanks

MammaMo Thu 17-Jan-13 14:03:18

How do you get hold of the Percy Parker songs smile

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 15:50:03

A good target to aim for is by the age of eight to do a 10x10 tables square (with numbers randomly placed along top and side) in under five minutes. Not all children will achieve this, of course, but as long as they know all these tables they will be ahead of the majority of children of that age in the UK.

If they can do it faster, that's great! The ultimate aim, I suppose, is to work out the number bonds as fast as they can write down the answers.

Frizy Thu 17-Jan-13 15:56:43

As a child I was poor at maths...

I had a cassette tape nack in the day called 'Multiplication'... and for each one it sang a song..

I am now a chartered accountant and still can recall the songs when I'm sat in meetings trying to work out 9 times 6.

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 19:50:14

It's important to know times tables really well since they are used in so many aspects of maths from multiplication sums right up to algebraic fractions. Any child that does not know them really well is at a real disadvantage compared to those that do.

FWIW. My opening post should have read DD2 (7). Not DD7. I am not super mumgrin

alanyoung Fri 18-Jan-13 17:34:33

I should perhaps also argue that the most important aspect of fraction work is equivalent fractions. Very difficult to progress in this area without such knowledge and of course a knowledge of tables is essential for producing equivalent fractions.

alanyoung Sat 19-Jan-13 11:21:20

Frizy, well done on a great career move, but it's a pity that you still have to run through the whole table to get to the one you need. Tables should be learnt as independent facts just like the capital cities of countries or the names of dinosaurs. That saves a great deal of time.

teacherwith2kids Sat 19-Jan-13 15:48:01

Percy Parker
Free online [sometimes goes offline, though]
and links from there.

Or you can pay to download it from iTunes:

CDs are available from Sherston Publishing as well.

alanyoung Sun 20-Jan-13 18:40:33

Frizy, if as a child you were poor at maths at school, it was probably because you were badly taught and this is very common. I think the reason is that maths is a cumulative subject, so you only need one bad teacher in primary school, for example, and that could be your lot for the next few years! It takes a special teacher to help you catch up a bad year.

learnandsay Sun 20-Jan-13 19:07:44

Alan, the problem is one child's bad teacher can be another child's brilliant one. Some teachers aren't all that good at explaining their subject to the stragglers. Stragglers often get ignored. (Or they used to when I was at school.) I think the emphasis might have shifted in recent years because now all pupils are expected to make a standard amount of progress. There was no such rule when I was at school. And then there are teachers who aren't that good at working with the brightest children (they find differentiating work too difficult.) So the aspects of a teacher which appeal to one child may well not appeal to another. It's probably really difficult to please everybody.

alanyoung Sun 20-Jan-13 22:45:31

Hi Learnandsay, you may well be right, but that doesn't detract from my argument - you can still be badly taught by a teacher who may be good with a different ability group.

alanyoung Mon 21-Jan-13 19:04:04

I'm often asked if it is necessary to learn the eleven and twelve times tables. My answer is normally that the elevens are very easy so that's a no brainer and generally speaking, the twelves are not necessary as we do not calculate in ft and inches or in shillings and pence, but I would never say not to learn something that can be learnt and has a use that you can see.

What I would say, though, is that learning the square numbers up to twenty is probably more useful because of Pythagoras' Theorem. You can save precious seconds in an exam if you know that 169 is the square of 13, for example.

alanyoung Tue 22-Jan-13 08:10:54

You can also practise tables when you are out and about. For example, if you see a vent in the side of a building (the type that is made up of rows of holes), you can ask your children how many holes there are. Don't let them count them - make sure they count how many in a row and how many rows there are and multiply the two together.

You will find many examples like this - paving slabs, tiles etc.

solidfoundation Sun 27-Jan-13 09:39:45

Should children learn the square numbers up to 20 squared or is 10 squared enough?

teacherwith2kids Sun 27-Jan-13 11:09:51

Depends - square numbers aren't as generally useful as times tables, so I would say that for most purposes, those square numbers within the 'times table range' (up to 12 x 12) should be known as part of times tables, and beyond that children should know how to calculate an square numer as part of their knowledge of multiplicaction methods.

alanyoung Sun 27-Jan-13 13:57:42

I think square numbers are important because of Pythagoras’ Theorem, but how far you go depends on the age and ability of the child.

alanyoung Sun 27-Jan-13 13:57:51

I think square numbers are important because of Pythagoras’ Theorem, but how far you go depends on the age and ability of the child.

alanyoung Sun 27-Jan-13 13:58:58

Sorry. Somehow that went up twice. Not sure what I did there!

solidfoundation Sun 27-Jan-13 16:44:03

Thanks for the advice on this.

PastSellByDate Mon 28-Jan-13 06:21:23

Hi Alan & all following this:

Sorry to rain on your parade, but it seems that imperial measurements are back on the national curriculum (link here : www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2259314/Imperial-weights-measures-classroom-radical-shake-maths-lessons.html, couldn't find BBC link - so best I could do via google).

Since learning 11x11, 11 x 12 and 12 x 12 is all that is necessary post learning all times tables to 10 - it really isn't too onerous.

loopsngeorge Mon 28-Jan-13 18:07:43

Just wanted to say thanks for this thread which i read with interest as my DS (8) was still not secure with his times tables. We bought the Percy Parker CD and he absolutely loves it and can pretty much recite them all now through singing the songs.
Thanks so much for the recommendation as I had never seen or heard of Percy Parker anywhere else!

WhatKindofFool Mon 28-Jan-13 21:33:03

If you have an iPad or iPhone, get the Sqeebles app. It is ace.

alanyoung Wed 30-Jan-13 17:11:40

Hi Pastsellbydate,
Shocking, isn't it. It's not the learning of a couple of extra table facts I'm agin, that's really a no-brainer as you say. It's the whole concept of keeping imperial units at all in the modern world. When I get a moment, I'll write a longer piece on this subject to remind people of the problems.
Thanks for your link, but it brought tears to my eyes.

I have just had a look at alanyoung's link ^^ and I think it is a great idea. I love the idea of a number square but with it all mashed up.

I did learn my tables at school, and it was massively useful, and as Alan says when I came to do maths gcses and a level, knowing the squares/cubes and roots saved time.

It might be a little sad that I still know that the cube of 7 is 343 and I last used it in anger 21 years ago...:0

I meant of course grin

alanyoung Mon 11-Feb-13 20:02:25

SconeInSixtySeconds, if seven children had seven rabbits and each rabbit had seven babies, how many baby rabbits would there be?

Hmm...I am sensing one of those tricksy maths teacher questions! Well, it doesn't say that each child had seven rabbits, merely that there were seven rabbit and that they each had seven kittens so....


<crosses fingers>

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now