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Arghhhhhhhh best way to learn times tables

(54 Posts)
kilmuir Thu 13-Jun-13 11:51:08

Thats it really. Have a DD who is 7 and hates times tables. I may be a fogey but I believe that once you know them they are a bonus. We have an ipad which she enjoys.

PostBellumBugsy Thu 13-Jun-13 11:58:19

There is nothing fogeyish about your beliefs. Times tables are the lynch pin on which just about everything (other than addition & subtraction) in maths is based. Without them, you are utterly stuffed.

I'm not sure any child likes them, but they have to learn them. If you can find fun packages on the ipad that help, then use them. There are sites like Mathletics, MathsGames and apps and all sorts these days to make them more fun (just google making times tables fun). Your school may also be able to recommend some good ones.

However, it may boil down to making her do them one way or another. Maybe you could say, you can only play on the ipad after we do 15 minutes of times tables or something like that.

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 12:16:50


Bonsoir Thu 13-Jun-13 12:18:13

The best way to learn times tables is the way my DD's class teacher has taught them: by giving them multiplication homework every day until they are mastered! Eg:

x 5

caffeinated Thu 13-Jun-13 12:18:19

Repitition repetition repitition.

Squeebles in iPad is quite good. I find just trying to beat previous best time works best for us. Little but often.

BanjoPlayingTiger Thu 13-Jun-13 12:20:52

It depends on the child.
We have played times table snap, chanted times tables whilst doing star jumps/on the trampoline, written them out, played games on the PC and done a lot of repetition. It goes click eventually.

MilkRunningOutAgain Thu 13-Jun-13 12:21:54

Google hit the button, there are some good tables games on there. My dd, whose maths is probably just below average, is gradually improving with lots of practice. We also go over tables on car journeys, and as we have to drive to school, can easily do 5 mins a day most days.

SDTGisAnEvilWolefGenius Thu 13-Jun-13 12:29:06

I had this problem with ds1, so I asked my dad, who was a maths teacher. He suggested using a variety of approaches, as others have suggested here. We made games where I wrote out a times table on cards - with the question on one card and the answer on another (ie. 4x5 on one, and 20 on the other), then put all 20 cards for a particular times table on the table face down, and played the memory game - turning over two cards, and if you turn over the question and the answer together, you take those two cards.

As a child, I had to write out my times tables (in a grid), if I had finished my other work before the end of a maths lesson, and I wrote them out a lot because I worked quite fast - and all that repetition helped me learn them.

One thing that Dad said has stuck with me - he said that learning maths is like learning a foreign language - it has its own words (the numbers) and grammar and other rules, so even though all the instructions and teaching are (usually) in the child's native language, they are still having to decode a foreign language. It doesn't help with learning maths, but I found this did help me to understand why people (including me) struggle with maths, and others, like dh, are fluent.

mumofthemonsters808 Thu 13-Jun-13 12:31:37

A word of advice from someone who spent the whole six weeks holidays learning times tables with their DD and thinking they had actually cracked it. Until the school week arrived and she had even forgotten the easier tables. Keep reinforcing, keep it short and sweet,make songs up, shout out loud, anything that makes it fun and don't get into a false sense of security thinking all your work is done. It can go out of the window very easily

For some children it can take many different methods and an awful long time. Others have no problem and can recall them very easily.Personally I think until this knowledge is formed you are unable to progress in maths. My DD's maths became a lot less painful once she had this knowledge but it took a lot of work from me and the school.

Good luck

kilmuir Thu 13-Jun-13 13:08:32

Thanks ladies.
which times tables should the 'average' child have mastered by the end of key stage 2?

Blueskiesandbuttercups Thu 13-Jun-13 13:32:51

All of them by year 4 I thought.

To be honest 7 is a tad young to be worrying imvho.

They seem to do 2s,5s and 10s in KS1 which most pick up easily.

I'd concentrate on getting those secure first.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Thu 13-Jun-13 13:33:20

End of year 4.

Scruffey Thu 13-Jun-13 13:46:27

Repeat over and over and over. Once ds started learning tables at school, we did times table questions every night to get them mastered.

I think my ds is average and he has learnt all tables from 2x to 9x this school year (y2). I don't know a national curriculum level, sorry but his teacher said he is as expected for his age.

wigglywoowoo Thu 13-Jun-13 13:54:09

My DD uses the free version of Big brainz which seems to be very good for instant recall.

mrsmortis Thu 13-Jun-13 15:12:30

My DD is only 4 so we haven't got to times tables yet but we are working on number bonds and I've found that a good way to do it is to chant things while walking to school. 1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 1 = 3 etc. It has 2 advantages, first she practices her maths, 2nd it takes her mind off the actual walk so she complains less about being tired.

sittinginthesun Thu 13-Jun-13 16:17:40

Ds1 (year 4) is currently teaching ds2 (year 1), which is great, as it is a doddle for

He is teaching him the way he says he learned then. So, for example, he shows him how to count in 3's. then he starts with 5 x 3 =15, gets him to repeat it 5 times, then moves up to 6 x 3, then 7 x 3, then back to 5 x 3 etc. over and over and over...

Ds2 thinks it's great fun, and it seems to be sinking in.

PastSellByDate Thu 13-Jun-13 16:19:37

Hi Kilmuir:

First off there is a trick to the order you learn times tables.

x0 is awesome - anything x 0 = 0.

Great fun to do 1 billion, quadrillion, zillion x 0 = 0
4 tigers and 3 bananas x 0 = 0

x1 is easy it's just adding another one -

one one = 1
two ones = 2
three ones = 3

My teacher taught us to think of 1 as a mirror - anything x 1 is itself.

1,000,000 x 1 = 1,000,000


Next up are 2, 5 and 2. These are taught in year 2 - so if your DD is 7 - this may be about right (depends if she's Y2 or Y3 really).


This is about teaching the concept of doubling.

Sometimes easiest to do this with candies, fruit or buttons.

two ones = 2
two twos = 4
two threes = 6

Other tricks - walk down the even side of the road and have your DC count by 2s (just last number if you want and later all numbers as confidence grows).

introduce the concept visually first and then move on to written sums

2 x 1 = 2
2 x 2 = 4
2 x 3 = 6

When you teach this really look at the patterns with your DC.

Note 2nd column - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc....
Note 3rd column - 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc....


x5 is again counting by 5s first - again can use fingers, fruit, sweets, etc....

get the idea first and then move on to sums on paper.


x10 is again about counting by 10s first - again use fruit or buttons, legos, etc... and add them up.

The point of 10 - is that it shows you that counting up individual ones (units) takes ages. So learning your multiplication is about doing it fast.

Once you've got the concept - again do some sums on paper.


At this point it is really important to show them that mutliplication is the same whichever way you write it -

2 x 4 = 4 x 2 = 8


Once you get the idea of doubling - you're in business.

4 and 8 are all about doubling.

Know your twos - then double again for 4s
Know your fours then double again for 8s.


With 3 - you have to learn by counting by 3s.

Several tricks. But fingers work well. Hand palm down. You have two nuckles and a nail - count them for the finger.

So four x 3. Hold up four fingers and count 1,2,3; 4, 5, 6; 7, 8, 9; 10, 11, 12.

Once you've got your threes down (and this can take a lot of practice).

Then you can double away with 6 and 12.

Know your threes then double for 6.

know your sixes then double for 12.


To recap - that has you knowing

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 to x 12.

Now there are a few gaps.

I tend to save 11 for when they need a bit of a break from the hard work - you can introduce it now - or if they're enjoying themselves save it for later.

Next up is 9;

9 is fantastic - it's magic for patterning.

1 x 9 = 09
2 x 9 = 18
3 x 9 = 27
4 x 9 = 36
5 x 9 = 45

10 x 9 = 90
11 x 9 = 99
12 x 9 = 108

First off up to 10 - the answer always starts one less than whatever number your multiplying 9 by - so 4 x 9 - will start 3?.

The ? is easy to solve because the answers alwas = 9. so 3 + ? = 9 - well that's 6. so 4 x 9 = 36.

over 10 - the number pattern thing doesn't work - but the answer units all add up to 9 eventually - so for 9 x 11: 9 + 9 = 18 and 1 + 8 = 9


Why not introduce 11 now (for a bit of an easy ride).

Great fun to 9 - just double whatever you're multiplying by:

11 x 9 = 99
11 x 8 = 88

10 and over there's a trick.

Separate the first and second number and add them for the middle - like this

11 x 11 = 1 - 1+1 - 1 = 121

14 x 11 = 1 - 1+4 - 4 = 154

Now sometimes you have to do a bit of carrying

28 x 11 = 2 - (2+8 = 10 - will need to carry) - 8 = (2+1) - 0 - 8 = 308

Pretty snazzy stuff.

That leaves 7.

The reality is you know them already - except 7 x 7 - which is 49 and there's no trick - just have to know it - or add up from 6 x 7 = 42 (which is 3 x 7 = 21 and then doubled = 42).


Games to help:

SNAP has to be top for building speed. Make aces 1 and Jacks 10 - use all four suits. Chose the times table you're working on. Shuffle cards and flip away. You keep the cards if you shout out the right answer. Winner has the most cards at the end.

(be kind and let them win at first - and when they're better at it - really go for it with them).


Great on-line help:

Table trees:

Woodland Junior Mathszone:

Mumsnet has a timestable square to use here:

Mumsnet also has link to maths champ - great games to help build those number skills there too: - 7 is on the border line between 5 - 7 and 7 - 9 games (7 - 9 is Y3/Y4 really) - try a few out first to ensure they're not too difficult.


When they've got that all down pat - then you can work those inverse multiplication facts - i.e. what x 9 = 45. This is first steps toward division and again speed of calculation is a real help here.

Woodland Junior school has some good division practice here:

Attitude is everything - be positive. Your DD will get there in the end. If it remains a struggle - have a look at Mathsfactor times table school or arithematic school - lots of practice all set up and all you have to do is turn on the computer! or - other parents have praised Maths Whizz, Kumodo and Mathletics here as well (have to dash now so can't paste in links - but just google and have an explore - all should offer free trials.


Moominsarehippos Thu 13-Jun-13 16:24:26

DS (and I) had them mastered by halfway through Year 3. It's pure repetition. So on the way to school: 'chat chat chat what's 7x6?! chat chat chat...'

Repetiton is the only way. In small bursts. I always ask him in shops 'I need 3 packs of that at xx pence, how much is that?'.

Some kids learn them with the rhyme CDs or flash cards. Everyone learns differently so you might need to try a few techniques to see what works best.

kilmuir Thu 13-Jun-13 17:54:13

wow, great links pastsellbydate

CorrieDale Thu 13-Jun-13 18:14:13

I told my ds it may be grunt work but he had to do it. We tried the songs and rhymes (bloody useless!) and learning by rote (very tedious). Then I found on eBay a tape called the magic way to learn your tables in a week. Well, it took a bit longer than a week but by golly it did the job! Three weeks and DS knew the whole bally lot. No kidding.

Essentially you make small cards. In one corner you write (eg) 3 and in the opposite corner you write 4 and in the middle of the card you write 12. When the child is learning it they say 3x4, 4x3, 12. And when they test themselves they cover the answer with their thumb. It not only cuts down the work involved by half but means that they get the relationship between the numbers from the very start. If they already know their 2s 5s 10s and 11s then you don 't need to do those and that cuts it down more. Ace system! He was the only kid that knew 8x8 in a spot test a few weeks ago and that was in a class with a lot of kumon kids! There's a book as well but the tape and cards worked for us.

poppyfieldmum Fri 14-Jun-13 12:09:05

DS and DD use Komodo maths on our ipad. DD has learned tables painlessly with it. We think it's great!

drwitch Fri 14-Jun-13 12:16:30

with ds (8) i am doing a table a day. I ask him them at random and then if he does not know get him to work it out. so might not know 6*8 but knows that 5*8=40, just ask him again and again til he gets it off pat. This has the added benefit of helping him with number bonds. It seems to take about 10 minutes

lottieandmia Fri 14-Jun-13 12:20:20

It's one of those things that has to be learned by rote really. But I do think it helps to have a chart up in the child's bedroom so that they can have a look at them and refresh memory. My dd is 9 and she just about knows them all up to 12 times. They have a test every week and go back over them lots of times.

hawesmead5 Fri 14-Jun-13 19:58:52

I use the Percy Parker sing your times tables, that has been good for my little one.

ReadytoOrderSir Sat 15-Jun-13 00:31:28

I'd add reward to all of the methods/games/apps/songs/etc described above.

My yr4 class have cards on which they earn stickers: bronze for being able to 'count up' in a table (0, 3, 6, 9, 12). Silver for reciting the table (0x3=0, 1x3=3, 2x3=6). Gold for answering random Qs on the table and platinum for answering random division Qs. Get all of their bronze/silver/gold/platinum to earn various prizes. They love it!

We use songs, Squeebles, Percy Parker, games, rote learning, games...

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