written by: Jessica Wassenberg
• edited by: Benjamin Sell
• updated: 1/4/2012
Tables are a fundamental part of mathematics education... but they can become tedious for both students and teachers! Check out a couple of different ways to liven up your times tables teaching.
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A Key to Success
Times tables are a vital part of mathematics education. As teachers, we know that it is important for our students to get a solid grasp of their tables. If they don’t, they will struggle with many other math activities, such as multiplication, division, reducing fractions, and much more.
We also know that learning tables can be boring! Varying the classroom activities we use helps to make learning tables less of a chore for both us and our students. It also helps to have a number of activities that cater to different learning modalities/multiple intelligences – such as the linguistic, spatial, and kinaesthetic styles.
Here are two strategies that you can implement in your classroom!
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1. Noughts and Crosses
This is a fantastic activity that kids really enjoy. On the board, draw a large noughts-and-crosses grid. Divide your class into two teams. One person from each team goes up to the whiteboard and picks up a marker. You then call out a times table question, and the first student to correctly write the answer on the board gets to put a mark in the grid.
Both students then go sit down, and the next person in their team comes out, grabs a marker, and gets ready to go!
Repeat the process until one of the teams wins the noughts-and-crosses game! You can even make this a daily activity and keep a running tally of which team is in the lead.
Students love this – they see it as a game, and they love to win! They also get a kick out of being at the front and allowed to write on the board – ordinarily just the preserve of ‘the teacher’.
This activity can also be used for an endless array of other subjects – challenge students on this week’s spelling words, for example.
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These are an old favourite – and for a reason. The repetition of seeing a problem over and over again helps children to commit it to memory, and create instant recall.
Flashcards are best used as part of a math rotation session, or a quick warm-up at the beginning of a lesson. You can find plenty of examples of downloadable flashcards on the Internet – so once you find a good set, print them out and take them to class.
Students should work in pairs, taking turns to hold up a card to their partner. The question should be on one side, and the answer on the other – the right way up that both children can read them at the same time!
You can get the students to just call out the answer to each other – or require that they say the entire table, i.e. ‘two times four is eight’, so they see, say, and hear it – as does their partner.