Teaching Multiplication Tables: Methods and Examples

Learning the multiplication tables can be challenging for many kids because there is so much memorization involved. However, there are methods you can use to reduce memorization and make multiplication more fun.

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Ways to Teach the Multiplication Tables

Illustrate the Concept

Start with teaching what multiplication is. One of the best ways to teach this is to show something that your child can replicate and manipulate. Tell him that the 'x' that's read as 'times' can also be read as 'groups of.'

Place small objects like pennies or buttons in five groups of three. Count the total number of pennies while keeping them in their groups. Explain that you have five groups of three or 5 x 3, which equals 15. Rearrange the pennies in three groups of five. Point out that you still have the same number of pennies, so three groups of five or 3 x 5 also equals 15.

Introduce the Multiplication Tables

Next, show your child the 10 x 10 multiplication table, and tell her that she's already learned half the multiplication facts. Then, teach her two more by explaining that any number multiplied by zero is always zero and any number multiplied by one is always that number. Patterns for the numbers two, four, five, nine and ten can easily cover most of these remaining rules.

Doubling can be used to solve the twos and fours. Your child needs to double a number once to multiply it by two, so 8 + 8 = 16 or 8 x 2 = 16. To solve the fours, she needs to double twice. For example, 8 x 4 is eight doubled plus eight doubled or 16 + 16 = 32.

Counting by fives is an easy solution for multiplying by five. Adding a zero after a number multiplies it by ten.

There are two approaches for multiplying by nine. See which one works best for your child.

  1. Instead of multiplying by nine, multiply by ten and then subtract the number being multiplied. So instead of 9 x 7, multiply 10 x 7. Your answer will be 70. Then, subtract the number being multiplied: 70 - 7 = 63. This gives you the same answer as 9 x 7.
  2. Subtract one from the number being multiplied by nine. For example, if you have 9 x 4, subtract one from four to make three. This three goes into the tens place in the answer. Then take the number being multiplied by nine and subtract it from ten: 10 - 4 = 6. This six goes into the ones place in the answer. Thus, 9 x 4 = 36.

Read Multiplication Stories

Sometimes it's helpful to introduce or reinforce multiplication tables by reading fun books. You can probably find some of the following titles at the public or school library.

  • Times Tables the Fun Way: Book for Kids: A Picture Method of Learning the Multiplication Facts by Judy Liautaud and Dave Rodriguez
  • Making Multiplication Easy: Strategies for Mastering the Tables through 10 by Meish Goldish
  • Marvelous Multiplication: Games and Activities that Make Math Easy and Fun by Lynette Long

Use Other Resources

Music can be a good way to reinforce multiplication concepts. Check out the Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Classroom Edition DVD. Despite the title, it's a good resource for parents, and the printable teacher's guide can give you extra help. A popular multiplication CD is Hap Palmer's Multiplication Mountain. It uses a variety of music styles to catch children's interest.

Worksheets and flash cards are still good choices for practicing multiplication facts. There are scores of online worksheets you can print out, or you can use interactive online worksheets. You can also look online for a variety of free multiplication games and activities.

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