Creative Ideas for Teaching Times Tables

Teaching multiplication usually involves students reciting their times facts in a sing-song voice, whether it is one set or multiple sets at a time.  Multiplication tables are a common site, and students fill in a new row and column at the beginning of each new set.  While both of these methods are effective at teaching students basic multiplication, they have the drawback of causing students to mentally run through tables or silently recite the facts when trying to come up with the answer for a test.  By adding creative methods of teaching multiplication, teachers can help students become more adept at recalling multiplication facts.

### Creative Ideas

The following are a few ideas that can be used to help students with multiplication:

• Use a deck of regular playing cards with the kings and queens removed.  Use a marker to write 11 on the jacks and 12 on the aces.
• For the set of facts being practiced, flip over a card and try to quickly answer the problem.  For example, if 3s are being practiced, then the problem is 3 x (card value), and the student should answer as quickly as possible.  This can be done individually, or students can be divided into teams, with teams trying to get the most cards answered correctly.
• Divide the deck in half.  Flip over one card from each half and answer the problem.  For example, if the two cards flipped over were 2 and 3, then the student would say, “2 x 3 = 6.”  Pairs that cause hesitation or that the student cannot answer show where the student is having trouble or needs further practice.  As with the first game, this can be done individually or students can be divided into teams.
• Divide students into teams.  Shuffle the deck and deal each player 6 cards.  The first player names a “Target Product.”  This number must be the product of two cards in the player’s hand.  Each player then shows pairs of cards in their hands that are factors of the target product.  Everyone must agree that the cards are factors.  The players get the sum of all of their correct factors as their score for that round.  The cards are shuffled and dealt again.  The winner is the first player to reach 100.
• Variations of this game could include changing the winning score, using three or four cards to reach the target, and playing with partners.
• Play Bingo.  Instead of calling out spaces on the game cards, the teacher calls out multiplication problems.  Students place their markers on the answer to the problem.
• Teach quick tricks.  Not all of these tricks make multiplication faster, but they do provide a quick a way to check answers.
• When multiplying by 10, just add a 0.  For example, in 3 x 10, move the 3 to the left and put a 0 behind it to get 30.
• The products of 9s always add up to 9. For example, 9x3=27, and 2+7=9. Another trick is that the answers to 9x1 through 9x5 are reversed for 9x6 through 9x10.  The answers are 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90.
• For 5s, the answers all end with 5 or 0, in alternating order, i.e.  0, 5, 10, 15, 20.  Even numbers multiplied by 5 have an answer that ends with 0, while odd numbers have an answer that ends with 5.
• When you multiply by 3, the digits in the answer have a sum of 3, 6 or 9.  For example, 3 x 11 = 33, and 3 + 3 = 6.

Multiplication is an essential part of mathematics at every level, so it is important that students learn to multiply.  An easy way to help them truly learn multiplication, rather than just memorizing for a test, is to use creative ideas for teaching.

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