Catch up and keep up: times tables

Some students really struggle with times table facts. TT Tock Stars just makes them stressed.

The symbol itself can cause some confusion as it’s close to the addition sign and is taught initially as repeated addition- further confusing some chdn. An image which integrates the symbol with its meaning can be helpful, ‘lots of’:

What else do they need?

Firstly, multiplication is commutative, therefore not every single fact needs to be learned. However, chdn need to know and understand this concept eg 8×6 = 6×8

This table shows the facts that need to be learned:

Only these facts need to be learned.

In addition, a sequential order is not always the best for learners. The 12x table is easy when you consider partitioning – it’s the 10 and the 2 times table put together. Why not teach it earlier in the sequence?

This is a proposed order:

1) 10x 2) 11x 3) 2x 4) 12x 5) 5x 6) 9x 7) 3x 8) 4x 9) 6x 10) 7x 11) 8x

The 2x table is not easy for all chdn and one way to teach it is to show them doubles using hands/fingers:

Another times table which many chdn pick up with ease and others struggle with, is the 5x

This visual method works well and emphasises partitioning:

Manipulatives like cuisenaire can help students to explore number bonds and these are key to understanding number relationships and building fluency – both in TT (times tables) and all areas of maths:

The Rekenrek is a great way to look at how times tables are constructed and here the beginning of the 8 TT is demonstrated.

The 9x table has an interesting pattern:

Many chdn will not learn times table facts by simply repeating them, try different methods to help the knowledge stick. Practise often using division and word problems where students have to think flexibly about number.

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