Monday, 13 May 2013

Stand up/Sit down - times tables practice

Times tables - how can they stand it?

Have you ever struggled to find another way to teach multiplication or times tables? I have. It is never easy to find new ways to teach and/or practice multiplication tables. The kids are probably under pressure from home to learn them and in turn it increases the pressure on you, the teacher. Governments also use them as a handy measure of progress that the general public understand.

A fun activity

 This is great fun and can produce lots of laughter in the classroom. It is particularly  useful when the class is a bit sleepy, such as after lunch. (Or even when you are feeling a bit low on energy.) Equipment needed, NONE!

  • Tell the class they have to stand. You are going to call out numbers in the three times table (for example). If the number is in the three times table they have to stay standing BUT if its not they have to sit.
  • You say the number 9 staring intently at the class. No movement. 3, the same. 10 and the class sits down, or at least a few confident souls do and the rest follow. Once they have the idea you can continue, with the calling out of numbers becoming incresingly rapid. You can of course fool some by a slight bend of your knees as if you are about to sit down, even when you call out  number which is not a multiple of 3. Who follows your lead? Someone will. Continue until you think they, or you, have had enough.

  • This is fun and it enables you to see who is secure in their knowledge of the 3 times table, or whatever table you chose; it is an almost instant assessment tool.


  • Of course you can use other multiplication tables, but sticking to our three times table you could start to use 2 X 3, 4 X 3, 6 X 5, 2 X 7, etc. see if they can work out which are in the chosen multiplication table.

Order of teaching

I think there is a distinct order in which times tables should be taught, namely 10, 5, 2, 4, 9, 6, 3, 8 and 7. Experience has shown that these are the most difficult in ascending order.

This excellent book by Steve Chinn, 'What to do if you can't learn your multiplication tables', discusses the problems and strategies for learning the multiplication tables. He is an expert on learing difficulties, especially dyslexia and dyscalculia, who shares his knowledge through a series of books focused on Mathematics.
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