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Just have to learn – times tables

7 ideas for practising times tableThis morning started like most school days. Once the first two were out of the door, I had another 30 mins to get the youngest two ready. They usually are, so we spend the time reading or practising times tables. It is a surprisingly calm point in my day.

Both children are in Key Stage 2 (7-11 years old). Apart from the odd project, most homework boils down to either reading, spelling or maths practise. Reading is straightforward. Sit down with them, on a regular basis, and give them my undivided attention. Maths is usually a worksheet, which needs quiet time to complete.

Now spellings and times tables are different.  I passionately believe that they are crucial foundations of learning, at this age. To have them easily accessible, means that the next stages of maths and literacy is less onerous.

Learning times tables is treated seriously in our home. In the past I’ve tried several times table cds. In the car, over meals, even as they go to sleep. I have no proof they work. One solution seldom fits all. Eldest liked them and seemed to absorb it all without really knowing she was doing it. (She is the same with spellings. She can just look at them and memorize them.) Middle One is more a kinesthetic learner (tactile). The cds didn’t allow her enough interaction and she just blocked them out. I needed to put my creative head on.

learning times table with workbooks

Here are our 7 solutions

1. Times table cds. We have a few of these, which I change round, so that it doesn’t become white noise to them.

2. Work sheets. I either create my own or print the ones from Happy Child site. I also have a number of work books which target times tables. It allows them to practise it in different formats. Something that they may encounter at school.

3. Fill in times table square. Basically a times table grid. Great for practising more than one times table at a time

4. Free online games. Lots to choose from. Both children are loving the Top Marks’ Hit the Button for fast paced practise, at the moment. Have to mention various phone apps are available, but we haven’t tried any.

learning times table with Maths Whizz 2

5. Maths Whizz. This one has proved an enduring hit. Useful to take along in the car. Especially good when waiting for a sibling to come out of an afterschool club. Does more than times tables. Great all round mental maths practise. (I even find myself playing practising occasionally on it)

6. Learn the tricks. Most children know the 9x trick, but for more  MathisFun.com has a great section on this one, with a fuller list here.

times table learning with playing cards

7. A pack of playing cards. Our favourite. Take a pack of cards and remove all the Kings, Queens and Jacks. Leave the Jokers in. Choose a times table to practise. Turn the cards over, one at a time, and use the card’s number to be the multiple. For example, if you are doing the 4x table and the 2 of spades is turned over then the answer would be 8. Continue until you exhaust the cards. When the Jokers turn up, I choose whether it is going to be 11 or 12.

The answer, for my children, is to do a little of all seven options. So they don’t get fed up. Also for me to be involved rather than leaving them to get on with it. At the moment, we are choosing a times table a week to focus on. It does work. Middle One told me about a conversation she’d had at school this week.

Boy in class: Sevens are the hardest times tables
Middle One: No, they’re not
Boy in class: Go on then.
Middle one (without pause): 7, 14, 21, 28,  35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, 84
Boy in class (noticeably put out): How did you do that?
Middle One: I practised.


Of course, none of these will work if the child is not interested. I learnt mine, by rote, for a reward. A beautiful rocket pen with 10 coloured biros hidden inside it. I really studied hard to win that pen. It worked. Even now, I can instantly tell you the answer to any of the times tables up to 12×12.

learning times table with Maths Whizz

With my own children, this would not work. The idea of knowing their tables is their driving motive. It’s true.

I have a few fun ways to learn spellings too, but that can wait for another time. What are your favourite ways of practising times tables?

Note: This is not a sponsored post in any shape or form. I’m just keen to share!

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