Friday, 30 November 2012

Tackling Multiplication

Teaching multiplication tables does not have to mean painful & agonizing memorization and drills. Instead, you can teach a child logic that will help them learn their multiplication tables very quickly. 

Montessori teachers are trained to work with our children from concrete to abstract. And in the case of introducing Math to our children, our classes have an extensive range of Montessori Math apparatus for children to get hands-on practice with. Concrete activity helps to build the logic and prepare children for the abstract. Touching, feeling and counting are the sensory ways children can learn better before we introduce the actual number theories and concepts. A good Montessori teacher will guide children through the process of working with the apparatus to better understand profound Math concepts and provide opportunities for all children to have their hands on the materials. :wink: 

Here are more tips and materials to share with all on other ways we can work the multiplication tables to our kiddies, till they're rock solid! :wink: 

Multiplication Cards - DIY 

*error while uploading these pics - will try again soon*

Let your child make and design their own multiplication cards. Like i always reiterate almost like a broken recorder - Children learn best when they work with their hands, "What goes through the hands... goes to the mind."~Maria Montessori. This will also enable your child to practice his or multiplication tables, while being creative.  

What i did here with my girls is to use our modest collection of paper punchers to create their own designs. We use one colour to code the tables we're working with, like this yellow one is for learning the 3 Timestables and mebbe blue for 4 Timestables... (etc). Colour coding will also make it easier for us to sort and keep our materials. Make 24 cards of each colour, in a size you most prefer to work with. First 12 cards being the concrete part with all the punched out shapes & another 12 for the tables itself ie. 3X1=3 and so on till 12. 

You can use these DIY cards for reciting the tables, playing snap or if you're into right-brain training, you can even decide to do the 1-sec flashing too. :wink: DIY with thicker colour/construction paper if you're not going to laminate them like mine. I thought since it's the girls' own hard work into these self-made cards, i wud appreciate and preserve their work by laminating them.. If you do not have a laminating machine, you can get those laminating sheets with self adhesives to protect your cards too. 

Ok, i hear the other end of the room saying... Where got time....? :wink: Well, lucky for you some good stores and bookshops carry numerous teaching aides and games, if we have the time to look around. :D I have here the Times Tables Snap from the good & creative people @ The Green Board Game Company. They have great card games to promote fun learning. I bought mine from Popular around $13.80 but it should also be available at Growing Fun stores. 

Times Tables Snap 


You can use these cards to play the usual snap with all the cards if your child has mastered all the multiplication tables from 1 to 12. If not however, do not fret. Cards are just the aides, we the humans can choose to expand the aides in ways beneficial for our children to work with. 

As i have 2 girls of different age range and math abilities, to accommodate a game in order for both of them to play, this is what i did. I section the cards into only all the 2 Times Tables... cos so far that is the only one she can manage fast enough to snap.  Separate the questions and the answers aside. Oops. Sorry, just noticed one question card was pictured together with the answers. Yikes. Ignore that okie. :oops: 


Now, all question cards are to be faced down. Answer cards to distribute evenly amongst players. In our case, there are 2 players. Answer cards held by players also face down. I flip open the question cards on the mat one question at a time. 


For the 1st question i flipped here ie. 2X12..... we wait for DD2 to come up with the answer and then we begin to take turns to flip the answer cards, until we reach the answer 24.... and winner for the question is the fastest person to snap at the point the card with the number or the word 24 is placed on the mat. I like the fact that this card also helps children to learn the words to the numbers in their answer cards. 8) 

I never believe there is only one way to learn things, especially when it comes to our own kiddies. My own daughters are both poles apart in their characteristics, learning abilities, acquired taste in food, preferred games and TV programmes and heck they both look different from each other 2! 

So, i am always on the lookout for the good stuff when i'm out. I look for different tools, teaching aides and books to benefit 2 different children. Tho it can be time consuming, i enjoy the process and the experience of helping my girls learn better in their own special ways..... their own special learning abilities. While DD2 is fast and her memory is excellent, jie-jie is the kind who takes time to process and digest stuff especially when it comes to Maths concepts but i did observe she is one for Music! She can hear a song a couple of times and voila! She suddenly can sing the whole song just like that! So, on the scout i was to look if there were songs that teaches Math concepts and boy, were there MANY! As with other stuff i get i try to find the chance to peek in (for books)..... a chance to test (for food)..... and a chance to view or listen when it comes to DVDs and audio CDs..... as much as possible. :wink: Though sometimes, I will cross into the paths of not-so-flexible retailers. :P Cannot help it lah. Can't say i didn't try.. :lol: 

Tables Songs Playtime 


Here's one audio CD on Times Tables which i find is ok. As with other CDs there may be occasions where we may not like all the songs in an album.. *That's why a friend of mine said the iPhone has a no-brainer option of pay for what you like from their massive range of songs, videos & movie collections from Apple... :wink: So i just rate this one as ok. But the accompanying Times Tables Playtime book is cute! 

Here is a sample page for you guys! 


Want more...? Sure thing, buds has lots! Okay, one more set to share 
with you guys. This is the Sing & Learn Times Tables book. Comes in a 
Write & Wipe Activity Book + small black marker, Times Tables Poster 
and Times Tables Champion Certificate + silver star stickers and an 
audio CD by Don Spencer. 

Sing & Learn Times Tables 


I contemplated to get this when i chanced upon it at one Times bookshop outlet cos it was rather expensive for me @ $20+..... so i unwillingly put the book down, but kept thinking about it. Not much info & perusal options on Amazon either.. Sigh.. Thats one thing i dislike about high end book stores, all wrapped up... no chance to see inside... expensive some more. But thankfully my usual Popular haunt never disappoints! :wink: I grabbed it eventually seeing it at a Popular roadshow event in one of the malls and it was priced only @ $16.90! And that my friends, was before discount! Woohoo! Good things comes to those who wait, they say.. And in my case this was definitely worth the wait. 

Want sample pages....? Here you go! 8) 




Memorizing via songs brings the rote recitation to a new level, which some children may find interesting and easier for them to absorb. 

How about more written practise? Here's one way... :wink: I have this whiteboard for multiplication practice purpose, which i so love. It helps save paper wor... :lol: Again, this is one material one can DIY. How? Just print the grids 12 by 12 using Microsoft Excel, laminate & work it! No machine? Lazy to laminate? My friend mintcc has provided us with a lazy option too! Ok mintcc... let's put it positively here yeah?... for BUSY parents, mintcc has a fantastic idea for me. She bought a clear file and simply insert papers in for ala board work for children. And a fine idea at that too! Saves time! Thank you, mintcc! :wink: 


This board i bought has the answer grids on the reverse side too. :D Which you can also print for your child to self check. 

Other than practise the usual way of writing all the answers down in order, i also used this for speed practice. Once my girls have done the in-order practices, i help them store the table memory by speed game. We use stopwatch on handphone or watch for timing. We decide on which tables to work with and i'll say out the tables in random order. The girls will write down the answers till all the questions are done. I dunno about how the typical person does it, but counting them in answer memory does not exactly work for my girls cos 3,6,9,12 doesn't exactly assist them in knowing quickly to which question these numbers answers belong to at a glance. Not yet i suppose, cos they aren't fast enough.... yet. :wink: So, using the speed game they are able to relate that when they write down the answer for 9, it is the answer for question 3X3... and so on. The multiplication songs help them in this aspect too. So far with practice and motivation they've gotten faster in offering the answers. Phew! A lot of time working on this wor... but worth it! :D 


Our main concerns as parents is to get our children motivated to get an answer (often the biggest problem). :P It is not easy to make them believe that being able to figure out the single digit multiplication facts will make it easy to solve larger problems (otherwise problems like 751 times 35 look just look overwhelming). Be sure the child has practised a variety of ways to solve the problem and found one they're comfortable with. 

Although the common way is to explain that these tables are actually addition of common numbers, not all children find adding their way up especially the bigger numbers very interesting. 

It sometimes also comes down to the flexibility of the teacher. Is the teacher concerned with the answer, or focused on method? If a kid gets criticized for having to do something visual (like draw an array) or tactile (like count on his fingers) to arrive at a math fact, that's a problem. And if the teacher will only mark it correct if they use the traditional method, it's probably time for the teacher to retire.... Ahakz! 

But then again in local context, our children have a need to conform to certain rules of Math concepts/techniques determined by the curriculum or the syllabus. However it is also not entirely impossible for parents to inspire the learning process at home. That's why there are help links aplenty on the web too. Here's a creative one i like. Learning multiplication from stories/picture charts! Quite cool! 8) 


This site contains the techniques, tips, and secrets used by master teachers! 

Want more ideas? Can check out this website too. Math Cats - Multiplication Idea Bank 

If you're into using music to teach, you can try listening to some of the Math songs they have here @ Songs For Teaching. They even have rap! 

Hope these little bits of sharing helps. Psstt... buds has more! But will save it for another post, aye! These few are already a lot to digest. Hope this can give a headstart to parents who are just embarking on introducing the multiplication tables to their children. 



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