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Primary Education News
News How to teach … times tables
The Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help you get your pupils up to speed with their times tables – without boring them to death
Not knowing their multiplication tables can really slow children's mathematical progress once they get to secondary school. Everyone knows it's all about practice, and this can get tiresome. So how to drum these basic skills into your pupils' heads without turning them off?
The Guardian Teacher Network has some great resources and ideas to help provide a solid times tables platform for students while at the same time helping teachers (and parents at home, where much of the practising must be done) to keep it fresh.
One of the network's star resource providers, maths teacher Mel Muldowney, explains: "Students coming to secondary without knowing their times tables often think they can't do what they are learning in class. They might sit in class thinking they can't do Pythagoras' Theorem as they are not getting the right answer when multiplying, say, seven times seven – but it's not the new work they aren't grasping. What is letting them down is their basic numeracy, and specifically their times tables. It is really important that teachers explore why students are struggling with new work and be really explicit that it isn't the new topics they can't grasp, but the basic skills they need to practise." Thanks to Mel for sharing her Moshi Monsters-inspired times tables top trumps, which can be used by primary pupils as well as secondary to grasp times tables.
The multiplication fortune teller is a fun variation of the chatter boxes school children make out of squares of paper – but rather than predicting who you are in love with or how many babies you are going to have, this one helps with learning times tables – just print and fold and get practising.
Thanks to key stage 1 teacher Des Hegarty for these mixed multiplication worksheets, comprising missing number sentences. These are ideal for a mental maths test to assess what pupils know.
Here is some clever, ready-to-print times tables settler activity and, what's more, no marking is required – students work out the solutions to 20 questions and cross out their 20 answers on the grid. The remaining five numbers of the grid are added to find the target number. If they have the correct number then their work is correct – and there are even four different versions to prevent copying. Specific times tables get the same treatment. Find worksheets for the nine times table, eight, seven, six, five, four and three.
An empowering online activity is Know by heart, which helps pupils to practise speedy recall of the two, five and 10 times table and makes a start on three and four. Then move onto Division facts, where students discover there really was a point to all this and find out the wonderful mathematical things they can do with their two and 10 times tables learning.
For class displays or to stick on the fridge at home, find this useful times tables poster to print in A3 and laminate – with colour schemes and fonts designed to help pupils with learning difficulties. And here's another one with a superhero theme. These times tables grids and cards will also come in handy.
Maths teacher Tony Watson has designed a 34-week intervention to help children master the times tables. There are worksheets and tests for every week as well as beat-the -clock games and you can find them all here. More information and games on his site at www.12xtables.co.uk.
Mangahigh.com has some fantastic free maths games on times tables. Here is a teachers' lesson plan explaining how children can race to make the largest ice-cream by answering questions on the two, three, four and five times tables correctly in Sundae Times and an easier verison, Sundae Times lite.
Join the Guardian Teacher Network www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network community for free access to teaching resources and an opportunity to share your own as well as read and comment on blogs. There are also thousands of teaching, leadership and support jobs on the site. Visit http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/schools.