Grasping the times tables is a key milestone in a childs mathematical learning journey. From the age of 6 or 7 they begin to memorize the answers to multiplications. Rapid recall of these number facts is a skill which remains useful throughout life but what is the best way to learn them? I would say that there is no one particular method which works best, since in my experience using a variety of methods and mediums embeds the facts and the concept of multiplication most effectively. I will discuss the methods that I have used both as a teacher and parent and hopefully some of these will prove effective for your children.
Learning by Rote
The practice of chanting times tables has been practised for decades and to this day remains an effective method. I recall myself that this is how I learnt my tables. A more modern slant is to use cds and songs to make the repetition of facts more interesting and engaging. I have often played cds of times tables as a background when getting changed for PE and at home have played it as my child settles down at bedtime. The only downfall of this method is that children may then have to go through the table from the beginning to find the answer to say 6 x 4.
Sing Your Times Tables with Percy Parker by Sherston Software (£0.69). This introduces the learner to Percy Parker who sings each times table song in a different style from country to heavy rock. Children certainly seem to find this engaging and there is also a grid and opportunities for them to recall missing answers.
Montys Quest by Primary Games (£0.69) This app requires rapid recall of times tables facts in order to help the mouse climb the hill to the cheese. The longer the answer takes the further the mouse will slide back down. There are options to select one or mixed tables and it is great for practising that rapid recall.
My Times Tables (free) It has variety of activities such as practising tables and number sequences, recalling missing numbers from the sequence and practising individual multiplication and division sums.
Children love interacting with someone else when learning and so playing games involving tables is often very successful. Making flashcards of tables and answers and then matching the pairs is popular with my daughter especially when she has helped make the flashcards. Making multiplication grids and then taking it in turns to complete the answers is another method. This can be made more engaging by using a different colour each and trying to get four in a row etc.
http://www.Nessy.com have created Tables of Doom which provides a variety of activities for learning tables. What I particularly like about this is that they teach not only the answers but also what the tables mean in terms of 6×4 being six lots of fours objects. In the game Squares in the Air Children are asked to demonstrate this by selecting arrays/rows of squares of the correct size in response to table sums. Free demos of games are available though to use the full game there is a subscription fee of £20 per year.
Overall by using a mixture of these activities and mediums you are giving your children the best possible opportunities to learn their times tables, understand the concept of multiplication and begin to use this knowledge in their ongoing mathematical development.