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dd age 7 cannot understand how to use her times tables for division, can anyone please help me find a way to explain it to her

(17 Posts)
magicpixie Mon 03-Nov-14 18:08:50

for eg she has some sums to do

such as 20 divided by 2

how can I teach her to use her times tables to figure this out

she cannot seem to get it at all

Madcats Mon 03-Nov-14 18:59:28

I think you'll probably need to play with some physical objects. I'd suggests sweets/something you can makes it a bit more fun.

Maybe start playing with 20 objects. 2 groups of 10 =20 but so do 10 groups of 2. (write it down so DD can see as well as count).

Muddle up the objects and then ask her how many groups of 2 there are (and then 10) write it down and then compare.

When she sees the sums written down, it might make more sense.

Do you say tables out loud? Rather than simply reciting parrot fashion I am also getting DD to say "3x6 is 6x3 is 18". I was sceptical, but she seems to have "got it" so has far fewer facts to memorise.

It would be a short tweak to have her say "2x10 is 20, so 20/10 is 2".

After you have played with 20, maybe eat a couple of sweets to celebrate and tackle "18" or "16".

You could do something similar with pizza or a cake.

magicpixie Mon 03-Nov-14 19:38:26

thank you so much for replying

my first instinct was to get twenty lego blocks
then divide

but dd is insisting they are not allowed to work it out, and that they just have to "know it in their heads"

can this really be right?

yes we have done a mix of learning tables, chanting games songs
shes learning 9 times tables atm

Hiphophappy Mon 03-Nov-14 20:20:37

If she knows her timestables this might help.

Number families. Only 3 numbers allowed in one family. Multiplication and division will use the same three numbers but just in a different order.

2 x 10 = 20
10 x 2 = 20

To divide explain the big number goes first

20 divided by 2 = 10
20 divided by 10 = 2

Actually seeing it written down might help, it helped us.

Good luck

Liara Mon 03-Nov-14 20:24:16

Division is multiplication backwards. So she can practice doing the times tables forwards and backwards.

e.g. 2x10=20

and so on.

Iamcuriousyellow Mon 03-Nov-14 20:26:50

I agree, make it visual. Once she's learnt it she'll be able to do it in her head. I used to do it with smarties/raisins etc - some children need to see the solution rather than just commit to memory by rote.

Coconutty Mon 03-Nov-14 20:28:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bunnyjo Mon 03-Nov-14 20:43:00

my first instinct was to get twenty lego blocks then divide

Then do that. If your DD needs help to see what is happening, then I would use lego blocks, or even something like grapes to help her visualise that 10x2=20 and that 20/2=10.

but dd is insisting they are not allowed to work it out, and that they just have to "know it in their heads" can this really be right?

Yes. DD is also 7 and she is expected to know, and be able to instantly recall multiplication and division facts. Her questions include both multiplication and division questions and also alternative terms for both; such as shared, product of, lots of etc..

yes we have done a mix of learning tables, chanting games songs shes learning 9 times tables atm

I would maybe stop doing this for now until she is more secure on the 'easier' times tables. Schools, or certainly DD's school, don't want children to be able to chant the times tables; they want children to be able to recall the facts, both multiplication and division, quickly and accurately to help them with more complex mathematics as they progress through the key stages.

Achooblessyou Mon 03-Nov-14 20:47:52

Triangles are good eg you'd have a triangle with 20 at the top corner and 10 and 2 at the bottom corners

2 x 10 = 20
10 x 2 = 20
20/2 = 10
20/10 = 2

magicpixie Mon 03-Nov-14 21:04:39

she does seem secure on the 'easier' times tables
in terms of doing them as straight forward times tables

she know the tens so easily

but I just can't seem to get through to her Division is multiplication backwards

the school has terrible communication, no help or advice all we were told at end of year 2 was practice rapid recal of 6 7 8 9 times tables....
I'm going to have to talk to the school about this again

dd can do grid method multiplication
she can calculate say 8x5742

she can do that fine

but she is always saying shes terrible at maths and can't do maths

surely shes doing well for 7 years old?or am I mistaken?

why is she lacking in confidence like this ?

toomuchicecream Mon 03-Nov-14 21:25:39

Do you think she's developed strong mental images to go with her knowledge of Maths facts? If not, that might be part of the reason for her lack of confidence. I always encourage children/parents to make pictures (arrays) for each of the tables facts and to learn the division facts at the same time as they learn the multiplication ones.

If she's got a decent memory and can recall facts just because she's learnt them then she may well not have the underlying understanding of what it is she's chanting. Which will in turn make it incredibly difficult for her to choose the right fact she's learnt to apply in a given situation, because for her the facts don't have any meaning. It's a bit like me learning to recite a poem in Turkish - given enough time I could learn to do it, but it wouldn't mean anything to me.

Lots of good ideas up the thread to help develop her understanding of the relationship between multiplication and division. I would also suggest you get her to draw pictures or take photographs to go with each fact. So for 10 x 2 you would have 2 groups of 10 lego bricks as you say, all lined up in pairs underneath each other. Then you can turn the picture/photo round 90 degrees and show how it is the same as 2 x 10. Then all 20 can be pushed up close together for a picture, then pulled apart to show how 20 bricks can be split up into 10 groups of 2 or 2 groups of 2.

That can be done for each table she is learning. If you have all the pictures and also a set of cards with the relevant facts on then you can play a matching pairs game. Or you could show her the cards with the pictures (and/or facts) and see how many she can identify in a minute. If you're really keen her score could be plotted on a graph so she can see how many more she gets right each day when you do it.

My gut feeling is that if at the end of year 2 she was on rapid recall of the 6, 7,8 & 9 times tables then the school has missed out the stage of drawing arrays. So she may well not be relating multiplication to repeated addition. Also, if she's doing grid multiplication of a 4 digit number, how much time did she spend drawing multiplication facts onto a number line? It's another important step which takes understanding on from arrays to the straightforward tables facts and helps children to see what they are doing.

Of course, the other reason why she may think she can't do maths is that the school are working hard to challenge and extend her. Children are now expected to know all of their times tables by the end of year 4 so if she's well on with learning them at the start of year 3 then she's ahead of where she's expected to be. So it might be that she's being given extension activities which make her think, which is why she says she can't do maths.

Bunnyjo Mon 03-Nov-14 21:26:36

She is doing well; she is just struggling with a particular concept.

I am surprised the school are just asking children to have rapid recall of times tables without explaining in further detail; that is poor. DD's school have explicitly expressed that they want children to have rapid recall of multiplication AND division facts and that they also need to know and understand the alternative terms - DD's questions will include things like "Tell me the product of 7 and 8" and "What is 72 shared by 9?" as well as usual multiplication and division questions.

The teacher does not consider the child secure on that particular times table unless they can do both the multiplication and division quickly, accurately and consistently - they are tested over 3 weeks and sit an additional test a few weeks later along with another times table thrown into the mix to catch them out!

magicpixie Mon 03-Nov-14 21:43:47

yes I think using arrays or physical objects is going to be the only way I can get her to get this

before she went to bed I said to her, if we had twenty smarties to share between us how many would be get each, I could see she was still not really getting
do I drew a line on the paper and said imagine this is the table, this is your half this is mine, now lets divide up these twenty smarties, drawing one on her side then one on mine until we got to twenty, so then I said right count them up then
and she said ten

right so 20 divided by 2 is 10

then we did 80/10=8

the same way

I think it got through a bit
but shes panicking thinking shes not allowed to work them out and that she should just know it

should I go in and have a word with the teacher about this?

I also wonder if the school have rushed through too fast and not really built that solid basic knowledge

magicpixie Mon 03-Nov-14 21:46:21

her work never includes the phrases of
"Tell me the product of 7 and 8"
"What is 72 shared by 9?"

its just a shame as shes a really capable girl I think, but this is damaging her confidence

magicpixie Mon 03-Nov-14 21:50:29

btw thanks for the help

tis appreciated flowersx a million

Ferguson Mon 03-Nov-14 23:08:04

You have had several useful replies, but I will just add my standard Numeracy information:


Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths work, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.


ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other

etc, etc

then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

I am sorry it seems complicated trying to explain these concepts, but using Lego or counters should make understanding easier.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :


I assume she is Yr3 now? I am surprised teachers are saying she should 'know it in her head', and at this stage I would advise as many helpful props, and many variations on methods as you feel she needs, or can cope with.

Maintaining her self confidence, and encouraging pleasure from learning, is more important than adherence to some dogma.

magicpixie Tue 04-Nov-14 21:07:21

Thank you sososo much for all the help

Spoke to the teacher and she said she is allowed to use objects and drawing at home but not at school

So went through it with her again tonight following your brilliant suggestions and i think something clicked
She started to get it

It's going to take some work to get her to have a really secure understanding
But I can see a glimmer of light


Thank you for taking the time to post all this help
So nice of you tbh you have helped more than dds school in terms of advice how I can help her


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