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Could you please share your best ways to introduce times tables?

(7 Posts)
LauraPashley Sat 01-Mar-14 23:10:57

I've previously always worked with upper primary, where it was just revision/consolidation, but now I have a younger class who are about to start tables for the 1st time. I want to make it engaging and useful for them, they are a lively class and would appreciate games, songs etc. But I also want them to understand the what and why of it!
Any suggestions would be great, thanks!!

PastSellByDate Sun 02-Mar-14 09:44:49

Hi Laura:

(apologies all as I do rather go on about multiplication - big fan and think it's crucial for further maths/ STEM subjects)

Not sure if by 'younger' classes you mean KS1 and introducing first tables.

So x2 - well ye olde but goodie - 2- 4- 6- 8- who do we appreciate 10 - 12 -14 - 16 - Mr/ Mrs X makes maths interesting - 18 - 20 - Oh my gosh we're counting by 2s to 20! 22 - 24 - Hey there GOVE/ HT/ current educational hate figure (we did our state governor) we've done 2 more! Have them march about the class.

Filed under oldies but goodies is also the wonderful school house rock multiplication videos:

certainly the counting by 5 song is still in my head and I'm pushing 50 (


Counting at intervals - this was taught by my 1st grade (US) teacher by having us buddy up in groups and then as a group yell the number.

So counting by 3s. Taught by having us form a line and then every 3rd person would say what the number was. (Also applied to other numbers). Late you can introduce each pupil is the multiple - so line them up (ask for 10 or 12 volunteers) - set them to doing x4 - first one steps forward (4), next one (8), next one (12) and so on.


Now once you've got the idea of counting by 2s, 5s, 10s and maybe 3s you can talk about how long winded this counting can be - especially with really big numbers and how using multiplication (x) and learning your tables you can do this adding up super quick.


Finally my wonderful 2nd grade teacher had the best strategy - we weren't allowed out for breaks unless we correctly answered a times table. She'd wrap up lessons about 10 minutes early - we'd all line up at the door and the teacher would ask us for the product of 4 x 5, etc... (working the x5 table that day for example).

Each week we'd have the 'times table of the week' - some tables (like x6/ x7/ x8 were tricky and we had them for longer) but basically each break if you wanted to play you had to get the answer right or it was back of the line. She usually took pity on you second time around and gave you an easy one - but that daily pressure to get out to play as soon as possible coupled with telling parents the times table of the week is x2 (or whatever) meant that all of us by age 9 knew our times tables to x12 by heart.

FINALLY - and this really is crucial

teach them about doubling (x2 is key to so many other tables - x4, x6, x8 and x12)

teach them about halving (often kids absolute get x10 but can't always remember x5 facts - if they know about halving they can think of it as a x10 problem and then halve the answer).

teach them that numbers in multiplication problems can be in either position (commutative principle) just like in addition:

4+5 is the same thing as 5 +4


4x 5 is the same thing as 5 x 4



For x 2 - always ends 2/4/6/8/0

1 x 2 = 02
2 x 2 = 04
3 x 2 = 06
4 x 2 = 08
5 x 2 = 10
6 x 2 = 12
7 x 2 = 14
8 x 2 = 16
10 x 2 = 20

now can you predict what 24 x 2 ought to end in? if they've learned the digit at the end pattern - (always 2 x the multiple) they can see '4' in 24 will mean the answer ends in 8 - and indeed 2 x 24 = 48

For x5 table

1 x 5 = 05
2 x 5 = 10
3 x 5 = 15
4 x 5 = 20
and so on....

So 5 times tables always end either 5 or 0.

For x10 - always ends 0.

Up to you but can teach with x10 - (and indeed multiples of 10) - write the number you're multiplying by and then add the number of 0s.

1 x 10 = 10
2 x 10 = 20
3 x 10 = 30
4 x 10 = 40
5 x 10 = 50
and so on....

so with the stick on the zeros trick

5 x 1000 - write 5 - count zeros in 1000 (3 zeros) - so put 3 zeros after 5 (effectively place holders) and your answer is 5000

5 x 10 = 5 + one zero place holder = 50
5 x 100 = 5 + two zero place holders = 500

It's a trick and can cause some confusion so difficult to judge when to teach it - but possibly after ten times table is mastered (so fully understand principle of adding multiples of 10).

mrz Sun 02-Mar-14 09:52:22

Start with repeated addition and arrays first - egg cartons are great for 2X arrays

use pairs of sock /arms/legs - 2X
fingers or toes - 10X

suze28 Sun 02-Mar-14 15:46:35

If you want songs then Percy Parker songs are good for teaching times tables. I've got a copy on my memory stick and can email you the files if you PM me.

LauraPashley Sun 02-Mar-14 16:56:44

You are all wonderful thank you!
Our "Big Maths" scheme starts them drawing circles round amounts of dots etc, then making the repeated addition notation under their pictures, this seems to tie in with what you are saying.
pastsellbydate absolutely no apologies needed!! Thank you so much! Yes, they are a Yr2 class (Scottish equivalent) starting tables for the 1st time, and the school has gone so far down the "we are not resource led" line, that I just don't have a clear pathway through it all to follow.
suze thank you, Percy Parker rings a bell, I'm sure my colleague has these in school, will get back to you if not!

Lara2 Mon 03-Mar-14 19:55:19

Children definitely need to understand that multiplying is repeated addition. Also that 5x3 actually isn't the same as 3x5. The answer is the same, but if you drew out an array, then it would look very different. We usually talk about 1 set/group of 5, 2 sets of 5 etc. but the latest thinking is to use vocabulary carefully to avoid misconceptions and ensure children really understand what's happening to the numbers rather than just learning something by rote and having an answer that they actually can't really do anything with. If they don't have very clear understanding then they don't really know if they have it wrong or why.

Lara2 Mon 03-Mar-14 19:58:50

Maths is about looking for patterns and progression in maths should be precision demonstrated by increasing accuracy and understanding. It's a subject that causes huge misconceptions because it's taken out of context too early - children learn best by doing maths in context once they have been taught a skill/new knowledge.

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