Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Teaching Times Tables

by Mark Warner
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Ages: 5-11

Do you use any activities that are particularly effective? Have you found any great resources which help children to remember them?


To teach the nine times table, I remind the children that the number in the 10s column will be one less than the number they are multiplying nine by, e.g. 8 x 9 will have a 7 in the tens column as it is 1 less than the 8 and the answer is a number bond to 9.  Therefore 8 x 9 is 72 because 7 + 2 = 9.


Have the students count off by ones. When they come to the multiple you wish them to learn, the students have to say BUZZ instead of the multiple. Continue counting by saying the next number in sequence. See how high the students can go.

Ex: counting by 5s. 1-2-3-4-BUZZ-6-7-8-9-BUZZ. As the students get the hang of the game, have them start counting off one by one. Naturally, you will have a student who will focus on if he or she has to say BUZZ or who has to say buzz.

(Yes, it is like the college drinking game.)

Edward Jacobson:

I learned a strategy from Making Math Real, a program taught at Berkeley Extension and much throughout Texas. It has to do with nine lines of products in a 3×3 box. Students repeat the products in order, I erase one at a time, and we continue to repeat the products until all are gone. Each time I erase one, the students take a picture “click” of the product. I ask which one was there, I bounce around to others that are erased, and we say all the products in order.


I teach 9 to 12-year-olds, and they love playing ‘champions’, also known as ‘last man standing’. It is fabulous fun. Pick two pupils to go against each other. Pick a 3rd child to give them a multiplication question. The person who gets the answer the quickest goes through to the next round. Continue this way until there is only one champion left.
Also, we do our tables to the tune of ‘we will rock you’. The children enjoy this as it’s not just reciting the tables, and the children who have been well-behaved get to use the drum to keep the beat.

Karen Goossen:

I teach 8 and 9-year-olds, and we do a lot of drill practice every day. We often play a game where I write one of the tables on the board, e.g. 7x in the centre, surrounded by all the multiples – like 7, 14, 28, 35… scattered around the centre. I point to random numbers, and they have to give me the answer – if I point to 35, they shout out 5! We usually do this as a chain game where we go around the class and see how far we can get without breaking the chain. The kids love this. I have also found some wonderful online table games which the kids can’t wait to play. I find the interactive ones, where they can play against each other, fantastic.


I teach 6 and 7-year-olds. We play a game called “Pass the teddy”. When each child has the teddy, they say the next number in the sequence, counting in 2s, 5s, 10s etc. We also do team counting, where each half of the class takes turns to say the next number in the sequence, I choose a team at the end who did the best and won. We then progress to multiplication tables by holding up each of our fingers for each number in the sequence we chant (e.g. For 2x : “2” 1 finger , “4” 2 fingers, “6” 3 fingers up to 10×2). As we are counting, I will pick a child, and they will tell me the related multiplication fact (e.g. if we were counting in 5s and I had stopped them at 30, the child would say 5 x 6 = 30 (they would see it was x6 because they would have six fingers up). The children seem to really enjoy these games. This age group especially like pass the teddy. When I taught 10-year-olds, they enjoyed the team counting a lot.


Learn times tables set to music. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for auditory learners. It’s great if you can find ones that use a different style of music for each times table.

There are plenty of times tables games online too. You can choose a particular set of times tables, a selected range (e.g. 0 to 5) or all of them.


Learn them with a song. There are plenty of great tunes out there.  Perhaps even make a class rap and dance moves to go with it.  Video and save to the blog for all to see and learn… for me!

Mark Warner:

Some of the following ideas have been successful in my class:

  • Giving children a chance to make their own multiplication square at the start of the year. These are then laminated so that children can keep and refer to them throughout the rest of the year.
  • Percy Parker is always a favourite – see… – Percy has songs, software and an iPhone / iPad app to reinforce knowledge of times tables.
  • We’ve also set up regular times tables quizzes using our voting systems.

A visitor:

A good tip I always found is to put an action to each table. E.g. if you were doing the three times table, you could do star jumps to every digit.

If you have any other suggestions, please leave a comment below…

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