Learning Times Tables

Following on from our Reading Blog last week, Mr Kirby has put together some resources and ideas all about learning our Times Tables.

Two key areas of mathematical development are place value and times tables. They provide a solid foundation to build upon as children progress through their schooling. Here, we look at different ways you can support your children to learn their times tables.

For those that aren’t aware of expectations, here are the national curriculum aims for each year group surrounding times table.

  • Year 1: count in multiples of 2, 5 and 10.
  • Year 2: be able to remember and use multiplication and division facts for the 2, 5 and 10 multiplication tables, including recognising odd and even numbers.
  • Year 3: be able to remember and use multiplication and division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 multiplication tables, including recognising odd and even numbers.
  • Year 4: be able to remember and use multiplication and division facts for the multiplication tables up to 12 x 12.
  • Year 5&6: revision of all multiplication and division facts for the multiplication tables up to 12 x 12.

Early multiplication

To start with, look at the language surrounding early multiplication- it is ‘repeated addition’ or ‘groups of’.
So to begin, practically look at making groups of the same number and repeatedly adding them. Ask your child what  are they noticing? 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 is “4 groups of 2”. Demonstrate this practically: share items amongst members of the family or toys.

At this stage, the practical movement of items and the discussion about what they are doing is an ideal early introduction to multiplication. In KS1, the early focus is on 2s, 5s and 10s so try and use items that come in 2s (shoes, socks, gloves), 5s (coins, hands, toes) or 10s (coins, ten-frames, a crab with 10 legs, 2 hands together). This will visually represent the number as a “set of” rather than a number of individual items.

The next stage to explore could be to rearrange these arrays and groups. Is 4 groups of 2 the same as 2 groups of 4? Children now begin to see it doesn’t matter what order they multiply in.

Questioning and encouraging an inquisitive nature and a curiosity about number is so important at this stage of child development. Make it fun and remove the fear!

Looking for links.

Children love to learn when they think there is a ‘cheat’ or a shortcut they can use to make things easier.

This starts as early as learning odd and even numbers when suddenly a light bulb flashes in a child’s head and they confidently inform you “the 2s are just the even numbers- you just miss out the odd ones!” Now that they’ve taught you that little shortcut, let’s see what other gems the number system may throw up…

Here is a colourful multiplication grid displaying the product of the grey numbers (Always slip in key mathematical language where possible, expose children to language they will learn later)

From the easier-to-spot early stages of spotting multiples of 5 as “always ending in 5 or 0 and “the 10s ending in 0” to the tricks associated with the 9s and 11s (do we all know the infamous “finger trick”?

Some of the times tables they learn lend themselves to this through the sequential order we learn them: “when you know your doubles (2s), double the doubles (4s)”; when you’ve learnt your 3s, double them to find your 6s; “when you’re confident with your double-doubles (4s), double them again! (8s)”

Looking beyond the numbers themselves, another link to utilise is making children see what they are learning in the real world and seeing why they should learn these. This can be done through relatable word problems (“this costs £5, how much will 3 cost?”) or in a practical sense on an activity I know so many of us are filling our time with, when upscaling a recipe (1 egg, use 3; 3tsp, use 9…).

Varying the language used

In maths, there will be a range of language used. From KS1, children will be exposed to the various ways a question can formed.

Number families:

These are a group of 3 numbers which can create different maths facts when arranged in different sequences. They comprise two multiplication facts and two division facts.

Key mathematical concepts involved here: multiplication can be commutative (can be done in any order achieving the same outcome) but division cannot. The key language involved in this is seeing the “inverse”, a key concept moving forward used in proving and reasoning.

A great way of illustrating these is through triangles where the number sentence created by 2 numbers leaves the 3rd unused number as the answer. Children will benefit by seeing and remembering these numbers together, particularly in different sequences.

A website with some number family worksheets:

Get practical

This could be as simple as gathering piles of counters/pebbles/Cheerios/whatever you’ve got in abundance, and sorting into groups.

Many games have printable options available online which have questions on one sheet and answers on another, but sometimes it’s just as easy to make a set of your own. Or better yet, have the children themselves create their own game! Matching games, timed games, competitions, anything to make the learning their times tables fun.

Making towers/covering answers with paper cups, there’s so much that can be done with a bit of card, some cups and a bit of imagination…

Create an alternative version of this cup game by putting answers on cups and sums on the card or, to go one step further, create missing number problems: 7 x ___ = 42

Practising on computers and tablets

By the end of Year 4, children will complete a digital multiplication assessment so it’s only fair to expose them to the circumstances and format they will face.

Times Table Rockstars gives a great idea of the pacey, timed nature of the questioning but there are a wide range of games out there which can engage children.

“Waldorf Flowers”

Templates for these are readily available or children can draw and decorate their own.
Starting from the inside out, multiply the chosen number by petals 1-12 (It the template is 10 petals, do 3-12!)

Upon completion, bring back our old friend “inverse” and change the format of the question to division. 4×8=32 but 32 ÷ 8 = 4

When children are starting to see this, there are Waldorf flowers available with the outer circle completed and the inner circle to calculate. Another element of learning for the child’s times table knowledge and further embedding their learning.

We hope you found this blog useful – please do comment, or get in touch, if you have any questions.