February 9, 2016 posted by littlewhitecottage

A practical way of learning multiplication tables…

Over the past few days I’ve been really thinking about how to help H and T learn their multiplication tables. They are tricky things for some children to learn and some never manage it. I want to give them a fair go at them but as they are still young we need to start in a practical way.

Both boys understand multiplication as ‘groups of’ and for a while we didn’t even use the correct label of ‘multiplication’ and just used ‘lots of’ and ‘groups of.’ This gave them a visual picture of what multiplication is and that’s needed before any progression can be made.

We’ve been trying out an idea of mine that seems to be working so I thought I’d share it to see if could help others.

Here’s my idea…

I asked Hen to put his hand out


so I could draw around it.


I did the same for the other hand.


I labelled each finger on the first hand 1-5 using a different coloured pen for each number.


And then did the same for the other hand labeling 6-10


I cut the hands out and laminated them.


I cut round the laminate and wrote on small squares of paper the multiplication table number we were working on. 2, 3, 5 and 10.

I put the number 10 in the middle of the hand.


I modelled what I wanted Hen to do.

I pointed to the 10 and said ‘we’re going to say the first part of the 10 times table’

I pointed to the 1 and said ‘1 times 10 is – moving my hand to the 10 in the middle again – 10’.

I pointed to the 2 and said ‘2 times 10 -moving my hand to the 10 in the middle – 20.’

I carried on saying out loud and moving my fingers to each of the numbers until I finished that hand ‘5 times 10 is 50.’

I then asked H to do exactly this and he managed it.

I then asked H to practice in a slightly different way in we moved through the fingers in a step wise motion (1-2-3-2-3-4-5-4-3-2) but going forwards and backwards. I believe that it is important to not just moved through the multiplication tables starting and ending in the same place i.e. at the beginning and ending at the end I think it needs to be mixed up a bit for the brain to think of each multiplication fact in isolation not a chant.

After we did that I asked him random questions going from 1 number to another number not moving in a step wise motion. (1-3-5-4-1-3-1-5)

Once he’d managed that and only then H felt confident to add in the other hand learning the 6-10 part of the multiplication tables, just for the 10 x’s table.


And we did the same thing going from 6- 10 pointing and saying the multiplication facts.

I believe that as this method, as it’s multi sensory, works much better for H and T than just merely chanting.

We broke the multiplication table down into a manageable chunk in only doing up to ‘5 x’s 10’ if H hadn’t managed this then we would not have moved on and just practiced this for the next few days.

I believe that by actually saying ‘5 x’s 10’ followed by the answer this will tap into his aural memory and moving his fingers and pointing to the numbers not only is a physical action to stimulate the brain but it helps H keep track of where he is in the recitation. (My elder son couldn’t make sense of ‘1 x’s 2 is 2. 2 x’s 2 is 4…’ and then he’d get confused as to what the next number should be.)

We will use this method for a few days and see how we go but it’s working already so I’m really pleased.

If you have a go too can you let me know how you get on.


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