Friday, 28 June 2013

Times Tables: Where to start?

Being able to recall multiplication facts requires a solid understanding of the times tables as this is the foundation for many other parts of maths, like division and fractions. But where do you start? I'm sharing the first few steps that we have taken to introduce and understand multiplication. 

Prior Knowledge
Before children start to learn about multiplication, they need to have a good understanding of the following:
  1. one and two digit numbers (0 to 100)
  2. be able to count backwards as well as forwards
  3. knowing what number comes before and after
  4. ordering numbers to 100
  5. place value
  6. addition number facts (doubles, near doubles etc)
  7. subtraction number facts
Skip Counting
The first step of learning multiplication is all about learning to skip count. Skip counting is counting by a number that is not one such as counting in twos or fives or tens. Some recommended that you start learning to skip count by focuses on these three main counting patterns: 
  1. Tens - 10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100
  2. Fives - 5,10,15,20,25,30,35,40,45,50
  3. Twos - 2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20
One of the activities we did while learning to skip count was using numbers cards. My son sorted out the numbers for counting in twos then placed them in order before counting them out loud. We repeated this a number of times.

We also used our laminated hundreds chart to circle the numbers used when skip counting in twos. You can download a copy of our hundreds chart from here.

Other activities we did involved writing the skip counting numbers on the trampoline (in any random order) with chalk and jumping on the right number as we counted forwards in twos then backwards in twos. You can read more about different hands-on OUTSIDE activities to learn multiplication.

Here are some links to different printable resources and more information that focuses on skip counting: 

Groups Of...
With having a good understanding of skip counting we started looking at 'groups of'. 'Groups of' is used to describe the concept of multiplication. For example, in the picture below, I asked my son to make six groups of two (6x2=12) which he did using a few different items. We were able to see how many items we had altogether. He worked out the answer by skip counting in twos. This type of activity was repeated using different materials. 

Hands-on Resources
My son is a visual learner which means he prefers using images, pictures, colours and other visual promotes to organize information and work things out. So I introduced him to the 'times' symbol (x) and what it meant (groups of). We used our two times table magnets from our times tables made easy kit and together with some oranges we workout the answers to the multiplication sums.

We also made ourselves these visual props by using recycled bottle tops and some foam number stickers. As we made each multiplication sum for the two times table, I reinforced the terms 'groups of' and 'times' by reading the sum (four times two equals eight is the same as four groups of two equals eight) and using extra bottle tops as visual props.   

You can read more about Learning Multiplication Outside as well as download our FREE printable Multiplication Board Games. More hands-on activity ideas can be found on my Maths - Multiplication & Division pinterest board.


  1. Great step by step post Suzie. I think my dd would like those bottle top numbers. Thanks!

  2. Great post. I love your blog as we are homeschooling kids similiar ages! So thank you for all the time you put into this's great and super helpful! xo

    1. You're most welcome Tara! Thank you for your lovely comment and I am so glad that you are finding my blog useful.