Teaching the times tables
We've tried many things over the years, and because we have three children, all learning at different rates, learning the times tables seemed to be a never ending activity! Here are some of the things we've done:
- I made up grids 1cm by 1cm of ten by ten and wrote in the numbers 1-100. I then photocopied ten pages and stuck them together in a book. I asked the children (each when ready) to colour in and discover the patterns for each times table - the first page beginning with adding on two each time. The result was a chequerboard, of course. One grid a day. By the end of the booklet the kids (each in turn) were amazed at the patters. Thomas became very interested, and began to just concentrate on number patterns, which completely sidetracked all his table learning from there. Boy, he learns differently from the rest of us.
- Picked up some tables songs and learned them. I even wrote them out and printed them up as a booklet and illustrated it for the children to colour in. I learned the songs too, but I have forgotten them all now!
- Periodically I would ask the children to write out the times tables, all ten of them (about once every four years). I had to show them what I meant the first time. The first time Thomas did this, at age nine, he wrote out 1-5 without any problems and enjoyed the task. Roger, who'd never done this before managed all ten, and realised some weak areas. April who didn't listen properly wrote out all twelve, but she'd done it all before... I found the exercise worth while, cos it allayed my fears I had mathematical dummies on my hands... as if tables were that important anyway...
- Playing with cuisenairre and mortensen bricks. Lots of this. Roger and April endured a couple of hundred carefully sequenced mortensen work books (don't know that it helped, in fact, I am pretty sure it didn't, but they certainly could do the work - even algebra at age 6). But the hands on stuff was brilliant. We built towers, and road maps, and patterns, lots of patterns. Lots of coloured bricks.
- Playing with LEGO helps too. We have onie bricks, then twoie bricks, threeie bricks, six and eight bricks.... every thing seems to be in multiples in lego. Boy, LEGO multiplied quickly in this house!
- And LOTS of real life practice. Going around the shopping centre and trying to work out if the 375g packet is cheaper per kilogram than the 500g packet. Way over the kids' heads, but doing the mental arithmetic out loud and given them sub sets of the whole problem to work out really helps. The other day I was trying to work out something, and gave Roger a part of the sum, and Thomas another part. It was tricky cos not only did I have to keep the whole in my head and work it out, but I also had to follow their reasoning. All this walking along the road.
- And a friend was worried about her 11 year old and his tables, so she got him to write out one a day, at the same time Thomas was (this was his motivation). Max learned all twelve in twelve days, and has retained them. Thomas got so involved in the repetitive number patterns he forgot he was learning tables. He thought he was playing with numbers and kept showing me things that were so amazing....
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