Updated: May 31
Building up your student’s times table fluency is so critical in helping develop their numeracy skills, but also in building confidence to become competent mathematicians in your classroom.
Yet so many kids have trouble remembering these facts. We hear it time and time again, from parents, other teachers, and even our friends as they reminisce about desperately trying to memorize their tables as kids.
We don’t know about you, but we believe that learning tables need to be about hands-on activities, making connections and allowing opportunities for students to learn and explore in the way they learn best.
The priority is to set our students up for success, not just an experience of failure if they can’t manage to have automaticity when learning multiplication facts. This means implementing activities that support the development of quick recall which have an element of rigour and are stimulating for our students.
With that in mind, we have collated 8 ideas that we have shared on our Rainbow Sky Creations Instagram account that are perfect for Maths Centres when working on times tables. Your students will be asking you for more Maths time once they have tried them!
Repurpose building blocks to practise multiplication fluency. It is also a great way to explore the relationships between different times tables.
This has been one of the most popular images we have ever posted on our Instagram account, and we can see why teachers love it.
2. Pop stick counting
Give students a set of paddle pop sticks to suit where they are up to in their skip counting. This activity could also be done as a ‘ping pong’ game, where you pair up more capable students with those needing support. It is a fun way to work on skip counting skills and making connections between counting and multiplication facts.
3. Get out the Coloured Rice
Kids love interactive activities. Hide magnetic numbers in coloured rice and ask them to select 2 numbers and multiply them together. Ask students to record answers in a notebook or on a mini whiteboard. The simplicity of this activity is what makes it a winner.
Teacher tips: If you don’t already have coloured rice in your supplies, plain pasta, dried lentils or sand are all inexpensive and will do the trick! Also, if you want to avoid the mess place the activity on an old sheet from home. Hopefully, most of the overflow will end up on the sheet, allowing you to either shake it outside or carefully put it back in your containers to reuse again.
4. Repurpose an egg carton
Place two objects in the egg carton, close the lid and shake the box. Multiply the two numbers the objects land on inside the egg carton then use a multiplication grid to mark off the answer. Our students love playing this game so much that sometimes they forget they are practising their tables at the same time!
5. Playdough for the win
If your students are still exploring arrays, using playdough is another fun way to explore and manipulate arrays. Trust us; your students will love having a break from carefully drawing ordered dots on their page.
6. Ask me Badges
Laminate these badges so the fact can easily be changed as the child masters it. Ideal to differentiate and have everyone working on a different table to suit their needs. They are also a great way to communicate with parents how they can help their child with maths, instead of bombarding them with ‘learn all the times tables’.
7. Counting Wheels
Sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles! This is a skip counting activity we love because it recycles items we already have in our classrooms, is hands-on and also helps with fine motor skills!
Extension: Factor wheels are a fun and interactive warmup! Give students a peg or handful of pegs and ask them to find a wheel to match their number/s. You could even start by asking small groups or pairs to set up the pegs for a given wheel, collect and then hand out randomly. Let the kids do ALL the thinking!
8. Multiplication Flowers
Encourage your students to get creative when working on their multiplication and division recall and fluency. These flowers are a way to engage those artistic or visual learners in your classroom.
BONUS IDEA: Repurpose a favourite game
Add times table questions to a Twister board, write questions on a game of snakes and ladders to answer as you play or mix up your 'Guess who' board to work on multiplication fluency.
Note: We have created this resource ready for you to use. Cards are the size to match the Kmart version of the game 'Who is it'. Find it here.
So, there you have it! Our 8 ideas for using items you probably already have in your classroom or home that will get your students becoming more fluent and confident in recalling their multiplication facts.
Have you just read this post and thought, “This is great, but I am a time-poor teacher. I love these ideas, but I don’t have time to create all of that?!” – Don’t worry, we have been there many times, and we have got you covered.