Visual times tables
I asked my student to draw for me what 2 x 3 = 6 meant. I played the role of the student while he was the teacher. He drew 6 circles then crossed out 3, without explaining it to me. So I asked him to describe his drawings to me. He mumbled something and I managed to catch the ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘6’ come out of his mouth, but not in any coherent sentence. The purpose of this exercise was to diagnose exactly what it was about multiplication he didn’t ‘get’.
As a result of this I let him experience multiplication visually. I took out coloured mathsticks and carefully counted out the matchsticks as I pointed to them. I pointed out the 2 groups of 3s, and then asked him to add them all up.
3D Times tables keyboard game
I have this cool piece of equipment I picked up in a Turkish market stall several years ago, which I used extensively for my own children. It is a 3D times table chart up to the 9 times table. Each button when pressed down reveals the answer behind the opaque button. You may well ask yourself, what is the advantage of this over a regular paper chart? Think ‘kinaesthetic learners’ and there you have the answer. Of course, pointing to a chart and chanting the sum is also kinaesthetic learning but this cool tool helps the child to be in control of their learning. And we all know how much fun it is to push buttons!
I demonstrated the 3D grid and asked him to use this to test me, first! You may be wondering, well, who’s teaching who, here? I have always found that children take great joy in testing adults, and even more joy if we get stuck or get one wrong. In this case, I wanted to show the student that the task I was asking from him is one I have achieved myself, also to make it less daunting for him. From a child’s point of view, it is extremely stressful to be the only one under scrutiny, to be the one expected to know the answers, the only one getting things wrong. So to provide them the opportunity to turn the table on the adult brings down barriers, increases willingness to participate in the learning process. Needless to say, my student loved asking me my multiplication tables.
Times tables games with answers
I drilled him for the 2-times table and made sure I asked the sums in both serial and random order. All the while he was allowed to use the grid to provide answers. You may think, surely he should know the answers without looking. Well, if you provide the opportunity to drill whilst armed with answers, it sets up the model for what you want. Secondly, the child practices under ‘safe’ conditions i.e. safe in the knowledge that he cannot fail: all he has to do is take a look. Later you can take away the information, in this case, the grid, and you will find that the child will have picked up a lot of the correct answers through repetition. As before, I asked him to test me on some easy and ‘hard’ sums too. It gave him great pleasure, and took down another wall between us.
Times tables flick cards
When I show my student the sum he reads it out loud. I give him a moment to answer it (about 5 secs) but if it takes him longer than that, I quickly flick the card with a movement of my wrist and let him see the answer, making sure I flick back to the sum. If he watches carefully, he can see the answer and it turns into a fun way to get him repeating his timestable. In later sessions, I will gave him less than 5 seconds to respond, and when he fails to answer, cards are set aside to drill again. All cards which he gets correct, he can win off me, so he can see his achievements in a tangible form, which is a great motivator for learning.
Then I set some follow-up tasks for him to complete at home:
A a few multiplication sums from his grade 3 workbook,
B drilling his 2 and 3 times table with his father (also testing his father),
C counting out beans or pasta to write out his 2 and 3 times tables, under mother’s supervision.
5 take away tips
It is vital for the child to feel that he is supported at home in all aspects of his learning, and the involvement of parents is often enough motivation for a reluctant child. And finally, it is extremely important to acknowledge his progress and successes. After all, what is a moment of triumph without a loved one to share it with?
1 Take an active part in your child’s learning process
2 Show your child what you expect from him by modelling it
3 Praise when he succeeds
4 Encourage when he struggles
5 Set targets and provide another opportunity to succeed when he fails.
After just 4 sessions with me, he brought me this door-knob hanger (a present from me for spotting one incorrect sum on the 3D grid).
It totally made my day when I read what he’d painted on it: ‘Mathmatison Working’ !!
Big punch in the air from me! He’s gone from being a reluctant math-student to ‘Mathmatician’ in just 4 sessions. That is why I love teaching.
Merry blogs at Merry Makes where she inspires and delights readers with discoveries and tutorials spanning crafts, recipes, gardening and more!
For those of you not able to get to a Turkish Market, Amazon has a similar 3D Times Tables Keyboard!
[amazon_link id=”B00000IUCE” target=”_blank” ][/amazon_link]
[amazon_link id=”B00000IUCE” target=”_blank” ]Times Table Keyboard[/amazon_link]
What times tables games have you used with your child?