Tuesday Tips: Teaching Multiplication Tables

teaching multiplication tables

After having finished with nappies, buggies, naps and mushy food, I have been confronted with a new challenge: homework, specifically multiplication tables!

Now, some children don’t seem to have to learn these by heart as they just know them (as someone helpfully pointed out to me), whilst other take a little bit longer, which is the case in my household. So I have become an expect of multiplication tables, though even I need to think a second when someone asks me 7×8 and 8×8 (they are the most annoying ones, aren’t they). Interestingly, I started trying to teach the logic around the multiplication table to my daughter until her teacher just told me that they need to be learned by heart, like a poem.

Here are some handy tips we’ve picked up along the way which have been helpful for us:

  • Tape the classic multiplication table up on the wall in front of the toilet and/or on the fridge (or other high frequency places in the home). I think everyone has one of these if they have a child around 8 years old. (Totally did not work for us, though it worked for some of our friends.)
  • Chanting and shouting the tables on the way to school. It’s fun and works really well, wether you are in the car or walking in the street.  The key is the rhythm, almost like singing a song!
  • That leads me to the most effective method I found: multiplication rap: We have been rapping ourselves through all the tables and with great success! I downloaded Multiplication Facts and Raps from iTunes but there are a ton of other options out there. The rhythm of rap and just the sheer fun of rapping, makes multiplication tables much more digestible. Again the rhythm is key.
  • Writing the table down, again and again and again. So painful, but if your child has a visual memory, it does help.
  • I also made a gird of 100 squares (10×10) and photocopied it a bunch of times. I then made my daughter fill in the squares (for the 3x table every third square and so on). With a child who has a visual memory it helps detect a pattern between all the numbers.
  • I explained that knowing and learning multiplication tables (and math in general) is just like solving puzzles or mysteries, just like a spy and an explorer. Somehow that helped 😉

That is all I came up with, but if you have any other tips on memorising, I would love to hear!



Comments (16)

April 28, 2015

I had a casette called Professor Playtime. I’m 26 years old and I can STILL hear some of the songs in my head!

April 28, 2015

Ha – those rap tunes are great! How fun that you can even choose what style rap! I like the Michael Jackson one.

April 29, 2015

Hi Emilie! I have a 9 year old and we have been working hard on times tables for a while now. After considerable struggle and tears from both of us I sat down with his teacher and came up with a plan. We were trying to do all the tables, 1 – 12, at once and it was too much for both of us. She suggested that we start by learning all the easy ones first. The 1’s, 5’s, 10’s and 11’s. Then she suggested the method of pairing the similar number patterns together. For instance this week we are doing the 4’s and the 8’s. Next week we might do the 3’s and 6’s, the week after the 2’s and 4’s and so on. So for this week we will listen to the times table songs and do flashcards of the 4’s and 8’s only. It seems to be working and we are now into our 2nd school term of this plan and he almost knows all of them off by heart. Woohoo!!! I would also like to say that I really enjoy reading all your blog posts Emilie! Emma

April 29, 2015

That is a really good tip! Thank you Emma!

April 29, 2015

Those raps are great! I thought my kids were a bit young for multiplication, but not for rapping – I think we will be getting a head start on our maths!

April 29, 2015

Great article Emilie! Another great tip is to ask random multiples questions like “How many 4s go into 32?” or “How many 3s in 24?”. This way children are having to think a bit more and you get the divisions practice too.

April 29, 2015

For some children visualisation of the tables works.

March 5, 2018

Wow!!! This is amazing! My 10 year old son STILL struggles with the times tables – this may help him!!!!

April 29, 2015

Ha, I have been doing this with my niece and the 7s (die Siebenerreihe, erinnerst Du Dich? 🙂 for a couple of weeks – repeat it over and over again in a very rhythmic and melodic way. We also randomly tossed a ball between us and whoever caught it had to say the next number, and we would also do it backwards or really really fast. The fun thing is that her little brother who is not even in school yet also picked it up just by listening because we repeated it so many times. I remember when my mother did this with me (because the 7s are THE WORST, right?) and I reckon even when they are old and grey they will think of me whenever they have to think of 7×7. 🙂

Courtney in London
April 30, 2015

Those raps are hilarious!!!!

April 30, 2015

You should look into the Montessori way of teaching mathematics – it’s very logical and concrete, and I am so impressed at how much my child works through them (at age 5, he and his classmates are already on fractions and divisions)). There are some fun Montessori apps – notably by Les 3 Elles (no specific language) – that make mathematics much more entertaining.

May 3, 2015

So that your children understand the concept, and can use multiplication as a building block for maths, I strongly suggest factoring as well (though no need to call it that). Ie give them the number (48) and ask them to give you the times table (6×8, or 12×4). At first you can do this with whatever table you are working on, so that it’s predictable. As they are older you can mix it up a bit, and even talk about the relationship between the factors.

It does help with rote learning too.

May 4, 2015

My son learned the times tables fairly easily but for my daughter, it is obviously less natural. The problem is that I never managed to learn mine either!
I’m a very visual person, and I remember colouring in my 100 squares at primary school. I remember the way the sun was shining across my page. I remember the colours I chose, the patterns they made, and the little booklet I stapled together.
I just don’t remember any of the numbers! I think I need to try the raps…..

gilly porter
May 5, 2015

We’ve done many of the above – and more – and they are all good ways that helped my 3 children learn their tables – but the thing that really clinched it was the Squeebles app on the iPad/iphone. I think it needs to be done in conjunction with the more traditional ways though

May 26, 2015

[…] my last post about multiplication tables I have been thinking about how similar one of my daughters is to me when it comes to learning maths […]

May 31, 2015

8×8 I ate and I ate and was sick on the floor. Eight times eight is 64. My daughter taught me that lovely rhyme!

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