Where to start? Teaching the Times Tables 1


“Why do I need to learn the times tables?”

“Isn’t that why they invented calculators?” 

“I will just ask Siri for the answer.”

You can probably come up with many, many more excuses that your child has shared with you for why they are SURE they won’t need to learn their times tables.  We found giving a few examples can help create the understanding where this can be helpful.

First ask your child to count the circles as fast as they can:

Slow to count the dots accurately

Slow to count the dots accurately

Now, they may get it correct or not.  If not, ask them to do it again and again.   Now point out how much easier it is for you to do it because you know your times tables:

Multiplication is much faster than counting.

Multiplication is much faster than counting.

All you have to do is count the rows and columns and you can explain that you know that 7×5=35.

So now they understand how much faster it is to multiply, but they still may need some convincing.  Here are a few more practical examples:

Ask:  If you have a bag of 35 pieces of candy and 4 friends with you (5 of you total), and your friends start dividing up the bag and give you 5 pieces of candy did you get the same number of pieces as the rest of them? If you knew your multiplication tables you would know the answer!

Those are some examples of how you can answer “Why do i need to know the times tables?” 

Here are some other nice articles to review that discuss why it is so important as a parent to make sure your child knows these cold as long as with some other methods if you would like, but we share what has worked well for our family:

http://www.coolmath4kids.com/times-tables/times-tables-parents.html

http://www.theguardian.com/education/teacher-blog/2013/apr/29/times-tables-teaching-resource

http://www.fastertimestables.com/times-tables-are-really-important/ that provides some additional reasons that may be helpful to you as a parent.

http://www.googolpower.com/content/articles/the-importance-of-memorizing-the-times-tables

We’d love to here any examples you have found helpful as well.  Please share!

You only really need to learn 1/2 the times tables:

Part of this last example helps to explain the commutative property of multiplication.  Now we don’t bother to use that name, because it makes it sound more complicated and it is fairly obvious with a simple example shown in a video within the app, but you can do it your self with a pair of dice or just explain the screen shots:

Clip from Fun Times Tables!   Showing commutative property of multiplication.

Clip from Fun Times Tables! Showing commutative property of multiplication.

Clip from Fun Times Tables!  showing the commutative property of multiplication.

Clip from Fun Times Tables! showing the commutative property of multiplication.

No matter which way the die is positioned there are always 6 dots!  This can helps encourage your child and explain why you only need to memorize half!

Where to start?  Now there are two general approaches we take.  If your child is turned off of the times tables completely you may want to start with the cartoons and mnemonics, which is how we have ordered the app.  They can begin to learn the times tables without even realizing they are learning them.

However, another approach is to help your child meet with some early success and encouragement by learning some easy rules.  If you prefer that approach you can skip in the app by using the backdoor code 17760, and jump to the last subjects before the final exam which introduce the rules.


Rules for 0 and 1’s

This takes almost no time, and might be a good one to start with if your child is discouraged.

We use two quick cartoons to illustrate.  For 0, we just show them a hungry 0 eating all the other numbers, anything times 0 is 0!

Snapshot from video showing hungry zero bouncing around eating up other numbers.

Snapshot from video showing hungry zero bouncing around eating up other numbers.

For anything times 1, we show a quick animation of a 1 disappearing, in other words, anything x 1 is the other number:

Disappearing "1" snapshot from Fun Times Tables! app.

Disappearing “1” snapshot from Fun Times Tables! app.

 


Teaching the 10’s times tables. 

Teaching the 10’s times tables is pretty quick and painless and good next step.  In short, just add a 0.  To help them remember the 10 rule we describe it like 10 just loves Cheerios and passes them out to every other number they meet, here is a 10×7 snapshot from the video in the app teaching 10’s:

10 likes to hand out 0's think breakfast cereal!

10 likes to hand out 0’s think breakfast cereal!


Teaching the 11’s times tables.

To teach the 11’s tables is also pretty quick and a good next step, at least from 1-9.  The 11 rule: 11 acts just like a mirror, so here is a clip from the app showing 11 acting like a mirror:  In the animation different numbers appear illustrating difference.

Teaching 9x11

Teaching 9×11

Now for a number greater than 9, like 11×12 use the second part of the 11 rule.  To get the answer of 11 multiplied by another number just add the digits together and place it in the middle.  So for 11×10, 11×11 and 11×12 if works like this:

Clip from Fun Times Tables!

Clip from Fun Times Tables!

Of course for 11×10 you can just use the 10 rule if your child has already learned it.

Teaching the 9’s tables can be very challenging for some reason.   However, there are a few tricks that suddenly make learning the 9’s tables easy.

 

Now the first method many people have used is the finger method.  That is ok but can be a little slow when the student is trying to work on speed.  However, it allows your child some initial success and overcome the discouragement of frequent wrong answers.    Too many failures can make the multiplication tables feel like a insurmountable mountain to them.  So, judge for yourself if you feel your child would benefit from the transition from finger method to another method I call the subtraction method.  The subtraction method just requires some simple subtraction, but becomes very fast quickly.  Both, however, only work form 1-9, keep reading though for 9×10, 11 and 9×12 below.

To understand the finger method, if you are not already familiar, I will outline it now:

Have your child look at the palms of their hands like this:

 

Finger rule 9 times tables

Finger rule 9 times tables

 

Now, for 9 x any number have your child put down the finger that is being multiplied by 9, so in this example for 9×7 they just put down the 7th finger and get this:

9x7 finger rule

9×7 finger rule

 

For 9 x 4 it would look like this:

Finger rule of 9's tables

Finger rule of 9’s tables

This works from 9×1 up to 9 x 10.

 

For the subtraction rule, it is a matter of simply realizing that every number x 9 always adds up to 9:

learning 9 tables, always adds up to 9

learning 9 tables, always adds up to 9

Once that is realized you can quickly teach your child that for any number of to 9, when multiplied by 9, subtract one and then figure out how many more to get to 9.  That is your answer.  This is how it would work for 9×7:

9x7 subtraction rule

9×7 subtraction rule

After a possible slow start they will be able to quickly rattle off the answers.

For 9×10, your child should already know the 10 rule (which we taught before the 9 rule in the app), so that is easy 9×10=90.  To help them remember the 10 rule if you haven’t already we describe it like Cheerios, here is a 10×7 snapshot from the video in the app teaching 10’s:

10 likes to hand out 0's think breakfast cereal!

10 likes to hand out 0’s think breakfast cereal!

Now for the 9×11, teaching your child the 11 rule first is helpful. That is why in the app they learn that rule first, but just to review, the 11 rule is easy: 11 acts just like a mirror, so the answer is 99:

Teaching 9x11

Teaching 9×11

Finally, the only one that requires actual memorization is 9×12, it may sound crazy if you haven’t reviewed the mnemonic system but in short the character for 9 is pie, and the character they learned for 12 is Tin. Then using the time tested major memory system of turning numbers into sounds (aDheSiVe=108) we get a cartoon like these snapshots:

Snapshot from video in Fun Times Tables! app

Snapshot from video in Fun Times Tables! app

 

Snapshot from video in Fun Times Tables! app

Snapshot from video in Fun Times Tables! app

 

It may sound complicated, but kids quickly associate the adhesive with 108 and then they know the answer to this last item of 9×12 and now they know all of the 9’s multiplication tables.  If your child has not yet learned the mnemonic system you could begin that next.

After this is it is review, review, review.  FOCUSED review is always better, make sure you spend more time on the ones your child is getting wrong.  That is why we did not use pure randomization in quiz mode of Fun Times Tables! but instead we have the app learn where child is slower or wrong and quiz those questions more often.  As a parent you can do that a lot easier than it was to code of course!

I hope that helps!  what tricks have you found helpful to teach the 9’s.  Please post and share!


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