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Advice on how to get DD to learn Times Tables

(14 Posts)
Elsashmelsa Mon 10-Aug-15 12:06:47

I have started a thread on here before about DD and her maths.

DD has just finished Y1 so is going into Y2. According to her report (which is a little difficult to decipher because of the removal of levels) she appears to be doing Ok in Maths.

The categorization of how well they're doing was 'VG (Very Good), E (Expected) and RI (Requires Improvement). The decision appeared to be based on the amount of progress and VG was 'Better than expected progress', 'Expected' progress and 'Requires Improvement'. DD got VG for all the maths elements.

It looks like all of the DCs (from what I can gather) had the same 'Next Steps' which was to do quick recall of 2s, 5s and 10s.

But I am struggling to get DD to recall any of her tables. 10s she can do and most of the 2s but seems to be struggling with the 5s. She can work it out if she uses her fingers but can't do quick recall.

She seems to be very much ahead in the English side (reading/writing/spelling) as she's been doing all that with the top Y2 sets. But the Maths she appears to be a lot less confident with and tries to resist doing it.

She enjoys doing the Carol Vorderman books so she works through those so I've ordered the times tables one, but other than that, any tips on how to learn quick recall on these?

DD is having a fab Summer holiday by the way - I'm not making her do schoolwork, but I just think if I can get her comfortable with these tables before she goes back, she'll feel more confident...

RunAwayHome Mon 10-Aug-15 13:48:31

There are quite a lot of Apps around, if you have a device for them - things like Squeebles (multiplication and division), Times Table Clock, Multiple Wipeout, to name just a few. I like those three because they all incorporate some form of division or recognition of multiples, rather than just straightforward questions like 6x7. (The straightforward questions are fine, but I find that pupils really do need to know and recognise the division aspects of it as well, for the tables to be really useful for solving problems, doing fractions, etc.).

Elsashmelsa Mon 10-Aug-15 14:22:44

Thank you RunAway, I will have a look at those and download them to DD's tablet.

CherylBerylMeryl Mon 10-Aug-15 15:38:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Elsashmelsa Mon 10-Aug-15 16:56:01

I'm not sure Cheryl to be honest. I think she can yes. I did it with a load of pens when we were doing the 2 times table right at the beginning of year 1. I had 24 bright coloured pens. I asked her to split them into groups of 2 and then asked her to match the groups up with pieces of paper with 2, 4, 6, 8 etc dots on them. So she could see that 2 groups of the pens were the same as 4 dots. She then wrote the number sentences so 2 x 2 = 4.

I know they've done the 5s in school so I assume they did them in the same way, but I haven't done it at home with her. Strangely the 2 times table was homework but she didn't get homework for her 5 times table. I do think they are a bit slack with Maths at her school to be honest... and that's what is worrying me.

It seems to be the recall bit in her head that she struggles with. But then she always seems to know more than I realize when I actually start doing things with her... smile

Elsashmelsa Mon 10-Aug-15 16:57:04

I need to find something small enough to have loads of them and enough space to lay it all out!! Maybe I should just try dots on paper - haven't even got a button box!!

toomuchicecream Mon 10-Aug-15 17:14:56

The curriculum for year 1 says to learn to skip count in 2s, 5s and 10s. Learning this as tables facts comes in year 2. So I really wouldn't stress too much about her not knowing the tables facts yet, as long as she can skip count forwards and backwards in each multiple, starting on any number.

I would expect her year 2 teacher to spend part of next term teaching her to draw arrays, as Cheryl explains. Then, when she's got a firm picture in her head of what each fact means, she can start to learn them as it will actually mean something to her.

If you want to get a head start in for next term, I would get some of those plain postcards (or cut up some plain paper/card/an old cereal box/whatever) and get her to draw the relevant array for each tables fact. Write the matching fact on another card. Then you can play games with the cards - turn them all over and try to turn the picture and fact that match. Once she's got the hang of that, mix all the cards up and see how many she can answer in a minute. Keep a record of her score each day and then plot it on a graph so she can see how she's improving.

You could get her to make the arrays and then photograph them if you/she fancy a change from drawing/using stickers/stampers etc. Then you could put your photographs or pictures up the stairs so each time she goes up or down a step she can say the fact that goes with it.

Footprints are great for 2s, hand prints are great for 5s if you want to get the paint out - you could make a frieze to go round her bedroom.

In other words, make it visual and fun and creative. Lots of children get + and x mixed up because they haven't properly understood that 3 x 2 is the same as 2 + 2 + 2. Making arrays will help her to avoid that problem as she'll have a clear picture in her head of what she's doing. And once she's getting the hang of the multiplication facts, arrange objects into groups to show how division is the opposite of multiplication so once she knows one fact, she can use it to help her work out the other 3 which belong with it (2x3. 3x2, 6/2, 6/3).

But above all, don't stress - moving from skip counting to times tables is covered in year 2.

CherylBerylMeryl Mon 10-Aug-15 18:25:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ferguson Mon 10-Aug-15 23:04:49

This is my standard TA reply for Numeracy. UNDERSTANDING is the most important thing, not just remembering:

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, 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
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'.

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 :

Come back sometime if there are still specific areas of difficulty

Elsashmelsa Tue 11-Aug-15 07:20:26

Ferguson, I think you've helped me before, I recognize some of your post, so thank you sooo much for your continued support, it really is invaluable.

She definitely already knows her number bonds to 10 and also 20 and she's very comfortable using the 100 Number Square (both visually and in her head), as I discovered yesterday smile.

She asked if she could do some of her Carol Vorderman Maths book and there was a page of mental addition. She did them really quickly by visualizing the number square so when she had to add 12 and 9 we talked about how to do it. She said that she would jump down in her head from the 9 (to 19) and then across two (to 21). We also discussed another way we might do it and she said 'when we add 9, we can jump down to add 10 and then go backwards 1'.

My FIL was here at the time and he was amazed. He said that he'd been looking at the 100 square on the wall and only just realized that you could use it in that way. We both agreed that if we'd used that when we were at school, maths would have made a lot more sense!!

Can I just ask about skip adding in 2s and 5s? DD can do the 10s easily but so far it seems that they've only added in 2s and 5s from even numbers (in the case of the 2s) and numbers ending in 0 and 5 (for the 5s). Should they be able to jump in 5s from ANY number, like 3, 8, 13, 18 etc? And similarly 2s like 13, 15, 17, 19?

Having said that, having written the 5s example, it's a fairly easy sequence to remember so hopefully she'll pick it up quite quickly!!

Ilikesweetpeas Tue 11-Aug-15 07:35:22

Shameless place marking for the websites! Thanks for the suggestions

RunAwayHome Tue 11-Aug-15 08:44:24

It is useful to be able to skip count in 2s from any number, because that's basically just even and odd numbers, so that is worth practising.

I don't think it's worth learning skip counting in 5s from any number as a pattern that needs to be rote memorised; however, being able to fairly quickly count in patterns does show a facility with numbers and how they fit together, so as a game/activity, it does give some good practice in number bonds. For example, she should know that 3+5 is 8 automatically; she should know 8+5 is 13 automatically, or if not, then be able to add 8+2 is 10, then know that the 5 is made up of 2 and 3, which then leaves 3 to add to 10, which should be easy. She should then know that 13+5 is 18, because she can use 3+5 to help. That kind of mental work is handy as practice in number bonds, in seeing how numbers fit together, in noticing the pattern (i.e., that the numbers first end in 3, and then in 8, and so on on up), possibly figuring out why that pattern is there. But I'd see that as a kind of different activity from actual rote tables practice.

It can be handy to make sure that you count up past the number that is 10x whichever table you are working on, to make sure that she realises that tables don't just stop there; it's just that we stop learning them as memorised facts, because it's easy enough to work out the other ones if needed. But counting on 30, 33, 36, 39, 42, etc., is still helpful to show that things continue, and it also help when they later learn to do division by chunking (i.e., she can see that you go up to 30 with 10x3, and then there's another 3, and another, and another - she might then be able to see that it's the 3, 6, 9, 12 pattern again, just added to the 30).

Another thing that can be useful when skip counting, but before the tables are learned as random facts, is to do skip counting backwards, so e.g., 30, 27, 24, 21, etc. Again, it is helpful for understanding what times tables mean, and being able to calculate quickly in her head - so knowing that 10x3 is 30, if you take away a 'group of 3', you will have 9x3 = 27. Eventually you hope that she will learn the ones up to 10x as memorised facts, but the procedure is helpful for later work (e.g., doing 19x3 as 20x3 - 3).

All of this (including using/visualising the number square, or number lines that carry on past 100) helps develop a mental/spatial map of numbers, which can be very helpful in fast mental calculation.

Lurkedforever1 Wed 12-Aug-15 14:46:40

If she actually understands entirely and it's just quick mental recall she's struggling with then the 5x tables is just halving the 10x tables. Eg 5x6 is half of 10x6. But I'd only suggest that if she actually truly understands multiplication and won't be confused or daunted by the mental side of calculating it. And obviously when she has done the 5x table that way enough the answer becomes memorised and the 5x table 'learnt' without the mental calculation.

Ferguson Wed 12-Aug-15 19:30:57

OP - Glad to be able to help a bit!

It sounds like she is making progress, so it is probably a matter of confidence. Finding quick and easy alternative ways of doing things, is good to.

So, if there is a big column of numbers to add, do all the pairs that make 10, (lightly ticking in pencil to mark which are done), then go back and add on the extra ones which were NOT a level 10.

Also, adding ANY three consecutive numbers is always three times the middle one; so for example 7 + 8 + 9 = 24 (take 1 off the 9, and add it to the 7, thus making three times 8). Even with big numbers, if they run consecutively that rule should apply.

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