October 02, 2010

Resources for multiplication tables

multiplication chart

This time of year many students tackle multiplication tables. These resources can be of help:

  1. This video explains my method for "structured drilling" of multiplication tables. We don't start with random drill (that comes later) but with drill that is using the structure of the tables. The tables are also practiced "backwards", which will facilitate the learning of basic division facts.

    Over the years I have hears from many individuals who have gotten their child to learn the tables using this method, but recently  I got word from a a principal of an English medium school in Pune, India, that they have already implemented my multiplication drilling method and it is working beautifully with their children! I feel flattered a whole SCHOOL is using it... and glad it is working.

  2. Math Mammoth Multiplication 1 book. First it has a long section that concentrates on the concept of multiplication, and then the last part has lessons to faciliate the same drilling as explained in the video.

  3. There is a place for random drill, and you can use flashcards, or the way shown in the video, and/or GAMES. I have compiled a list of online multiplication games here.

    This card game is also noteworthy  (the "Product War" version). Essentially, each player is dealt two cards face up, players multiply those, and the person with highest product captures all cards in that round.

    Or, try a dice game called Damult Dice.


I feel that learning the multiplication tables well is more important than even mastering addition and subtraction facts. Why? Because knowing the tables well facilitates the learning of basic division facts, multidigit multiplication, long division, most fraction math and factoring. Even in algebra you still need to be able to simplify rational expressions and factor polynomials, perhaps even multiply matrices.

Or, we can say it this way: if you child does not know the tables, he/she will have a terrible time mastering all those topics. I'm not saying children won't learn those topics conceptually -- I mean they will have hard time completing the problems and exercises quickly, and can instead get all "bogged down" just by the multiplications.

That is why I feel every teacher/parent should put forth a good effort for their students to learn the times tables. Spend 1-2 months on it. It can pay off!

That said, there is a BALANCE, as in everything. IF you've already expended a considerable amount of effort and the child is not retaining them, please don't make the multiplication tables to be the reason why your student hates math. You can back off and try again later. Some give their students a "crutch" -- tables written out -- and eventually the kid notices how slow it makes him/her having to check the answers in the table instead of knowing them, and decides to memorize them.
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