Teaching Times Tables

Posted in Inspiration & Ideas

Teaching Times Tables? Here’s a simple but really effective ‘arrays’ task that helps children understand times tables facts and connect them to multiples, factors and fractions.

This investigation offers rich opportunities to develop essential mathematical language connected to learning multiplication facts.

1. Using equal sized cubes or tiles (preferably of the) same colour) take a handful. This should be more than you can accurately estimate; probably between 15 – 25). DON”T COUNT THEM! You need this to be number ‘x’ (for the time being anyway).

 2. Investigate how many rectangular arrays you can construct using ALL of your cubes or tiles. You must use them all as this will help reveal certain properties of ‘x’. For example, if you can create equal columns of 4 then you know ‘x’ is a multiple of 4 and has 4 as one of it’s factors. If you can create columns of 4, you must also be bale to see that ‘x’ can be divided into quarters and you’ll therefore be able to describe how much 3/4 of x is for example.


3. What if you can only create one array? What could you say about this number’s properties and how would we classify this mathematically? What kind of investigations could grow from this about even just the numbers from 1-20?

4. Most numbers will create more than one array though so you could then look carefully at the shape you’ve created and consider how you could rearrange it using what you know about 4. If there are two groups of 2 in 4 then what could you do to your array and what multiple, factor and fraction facts would you discover?

5. What if you can create columns and rows with the same number in each? What shape does this produce and has anyone else produced this shape with a different number of cubes?

6. What doesn’t work and why?

7. This could all be recorded pictorially using either squared paper or as labelled rectangles on plain paper. By creating the corresponding equations you’ll have the whole ‘Concrete- Pictorial – Abstract’ journey.

For more ideas join us on ‘Teaching Times Tables (with meaning and without the pain’ half-day courses starting in June!

Find out more here

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