This activity is ideal for reinforcing the children’s knowledge of their multiplication tables. It is also fun, making the children well-motivated and eager to remember their tables.
1) The children need to have a basic knowledge of the times table that you will be covering in the contest, so give them time (a few minutes is enough) to practise beforehand, or choose one which you think they know well.
2) This activity can be carried out individually (although this arrangement may take a long time) or in groups (3/4 children in each group is enough). If working in groups, the children should decide who will begin and the order in which they will speak. Give them a few minutes to practise so they are comfortable with the order.
3) The teacher will need a stopwatch, and after calling out “Ready, Steady, Go!” the children should recite their times tables (one after the other). So, if Tom begins and the table being tested is the four times table, he will call out, “One times four is four”. When Tom has finished calling, the next person in the group (Katie) will call out, “Two times four is eight.” The next person will then call out, “Three times four is twelve” and so on, until the group reaches twelve times four.
4) The teacher should time how long the group takes to do this and record the time on the board. This should be repeated for other groups, with the winning team receiving prizes according to your school’s reward system. While the group is reciting their tables, other children should be encouraged to listen carefully (as it will give them better chances of winning when it is their turn!).
5) You could then repeat the activity to see if any groups can beat their previous time, with prizes being awarded to those that do. This gives all children a chance to win a prize, not just the fastest group.
When we have used this activity in school, the children have really enjoyed it. As well as reinforcing their multiplication tables, it also develops their ability to work as a team and cooperate. However, it is important to mix up the children in the groups so (if the activity is carried out a number of times throughout the school year), it is not the same group of children who win each time. The teacher should also keep an eye out for anyone who might write the answers on their hands or on paper!