Teaching time tables and other arithmetic can be a struggle. Each student is unique and responds differently to teaching methods. So how can you help children learn the times tables? Well, the answer is simpler than you think. It’s all about finding the method that engages their senses and turns basic numeracy into a fun activity. Whether your students have dyscalculia, learning difficulties or just don’t engage with traditional teaching methods, here are some ways to inspire your students.
The traditional method of learning multiplication tables has always been repeating each one like a mantra. This rote activity is often unengaging for students with those who don’t understand just going along with the flow. Instead, try making the multiplication real with objects and images.
Food, blocks, numicon tiles, tokens, pictures, whatever theme and material you have to hand will do. The additional visual aid allows your students to see the process at work and understand the real value of the numbers written down on the chart. Using everyday items like food will also convey to them how multiplication is used in everyday life and will help them understand the importance of learning this foundational skill.
Music has long been connected with better recall. Just think about the song stuck in your head right now or the chorus from that pop song on the radio that drives you mad. You remember it because of the cadence and flow of music. Children work in similar ways and will respond better to multiplication if linked to music. EducationCity Songs has written some songs method that allows children to have fun while learning their multiplication tables. Each song has a different theme; what they have in common is that they are all really catchy!
If your students are shy performing the songs as a class can be a real help, or you could just let them listen and join in if and when they are comfortable doing so.
Games are not a bugbear of education but rather another tool. With the popularity of smart devices and access to WiFi educating students by digital means has become more mainstream. A popular activity on EducationCity is PlayLive Multiplication because students can compete against their classmates, against other school or just try to improve on their own score against the clock. There is also the Mental Maths Topic Tool, which allows the teacher to control the times tables being tested, and is great for team competitions!
You don’t have to go high tech to keep your students entertained. There are several board and memory games that engage students and surreptitiously teach them times tables too. A popular example of this type of game is Hoo Ha! Designed by William Quartey-Papafio, cards with numbers are turned over and students then play a memory game, matching up the numbers with the answer. Elegant in design, this simple game excites students without the dirge of the phrase ‘learning math’.
Get Some Fresh Air
This method ties into the tactile instructions. As the saying goes, ‘a change is as good as a rest’ so take your class outside to experience maths in nature. This could be as simple as practising times tables with chalk on the quad or taking an excursion to practice times tables in the real world. No matter the plan, going outside the class will make the lesson stick out as one to remember and help your learners later in life.
Looking for the best way to learn times tables can be tough with different age groups, interests and learning styles. Fortunately, you don’t have to stick to traditional methods and can shake things up. Try one of these techniques or develop your own and you’ll find your students will develop important foundational skills that will support their learning for years to come.