## Finger Tables

I learnt this way of working out those tricky 6x 7x and 8x tables at a course a while back. I found it extremely complicated and far harder than just learning the tables – in fact I was the one at the back of the classroom looking puzzled, shaking  head and saying, “I just don’t get it.”  It gave me a real insight into how children must feel at school on occasions!

Anyway, I finally did pick it up, and although I’m not keen on it myself, the rest of the participants loved it. Some even said that they had already used it with some success, so I’m going to share it with you.

The first thing you need to do is give all your fingers a value from 6 (thumbs) to 10 (little fingers).

Then you touch together the fingers with the numbers you want to multiply, so 8×8 is done  like this.

So far, so good.  Then comes the bit I don’t like.  All the fingers now change values. The ones from the thumbs to those that are touching become 10s, so here I have 6 fingers (the two which are touching, two index fingers and two thumbs) which become 10s.    6 x 10 = 60.

Then I see how many fingers I have left on each hand – in this case two (ring finger and little finger) and I multiply them by each other: 2 x 2 = 4.

Finally, I add those two answers together.  60 + 4 = 64, so 8 x 8 = 64.

Here’s one more example. 7 x 9 = ?

I touch the two fingers together, and then give all my fingers from these to my thumbs a value of 10.  That’s 6 fingers, and 6 x 10 = 60.

Then I see how many fingers are left on each hand. I have  1 on my left hand (little finger), and 3 on my right hand middle finger, ring finger and little finger) and I multiply these  together:  1 x 3 = 3. I add the two answers together :  60 + 3 = 63 so 7 x 9 = 63.

It works, but I find it convoluted.  I much prefer to help children learn their tables by heart, using multisensory methods, and you will find my suggestions how to do that here.

What do you think? If any of you have used this method, or try it out after reading this post, I’d love to hear how you got on.

For maths and English tutoring in the north Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall areas, visit www.sjbteaching.com. For links to other interesting education related articles, come and Like my Facebook page.

## T is for…

T is for…Times Tables. Your times tables are one of the most important things you will ever learn in your life! No matter what job you decide to do when you leave school, you will find that you use your times tables.

When you know all your tables up to 10 x 10, you can use them to multiply much bigger numbers. For example if you know that 3 x 3 = 9, you can work out that 3 x 30 = 90 and
3 x 300 = 900. You can then use this knowledge to work out 3 x 37, which is the same as 3 x 30 (90) plus 3 x 7 (21) which is 90 + 21 = 111.

Why is this important? Imagine if you want to buy 7 stamps at 49p each:
7 x 4 = 28 so 7 x 40 = 280
7 x 9 = 63
280 + 63 = 343
So you would need 343p or £3.43

Simple if you know your tables. For some help and ideas for learning them, get an adult to read Teaching the Times Tables with you.

Related posts: S is for…     U is for…

## Teaching the Times Tables

I’ve been tutoring maths for a number of years now. I’ve tutored boys and girls. I’ve tutored individuals and small groups. I’ve tutored children of all ages from very different social backgrounds. But they have all had one thing in common: none of them knew their times tables, and this was really hindering their progress in maths.

Of course I told them that they needed to know their tables off by heart, but their parents and teachers had already told them this. If it was that easy they would have learnt them already. So this year I have made it my mission to get all the children I tutor to learn all of their times tables.

To start with I created a desire to learn them. I made a colourful chart to show progress, and offered rewards of stickers for each of the tables that they learnt. But not just any old stickers – exciting, shiny ones that made their eyes light up when they saw them. The boys especially liked these football ones from Superstickers.

Now I had children who were desperate to learn their times tables. What next?

We took the tables one at a time and started by chanting them. When we had chanted them forwards a few times, we did them backwards, then odd numbers only and even numbers only to get used to the idea of knowing them out of order. After that it was a case of practise, practise, practise. The trick was finding enough different ways to practise the same thing so that the children didn’t get bored with it.

I made some sets of cards with the questions and answers so that we could play pelmanism, and these proved very popular. I encouraged the children to read aloud the question as they turned each card over, and to work out what answer they needed to match before turning over the next card. We also used the same cards to play snap, and a race against the clock game to match all up all of the question cards with their answers – trying to be faster each time.

Although the children loved all of these games, I was very aware that I couldn’t rely on the same sets of cards forever without the children thinking “Oh no – not those again!” and losing motivation. I looked around for some new ideas and found some lovely products on Sue Kerrigan’s let me learn website.

The turn table cards were recommended to me by the trainer on a dyslexia course I attended. They are designed for multi-sensory learning and are really good fun to play with. On one side of the card they have a question eg 2×3 and a picture of an array to show children what 2×3 looks like and to give them a visual clue. On the other side is the answer. The children say the question and answer aloud (hearing their own voice) and then turn over the card to see if they are correct. There is a video of how to use them here . I usually use them with one child at a time, focusing on one set of tables at a time, using them as shown in the video, and then doing races against the clock to beat their own personal time. However I have also used them with a group of children each working on a different set of tables. One group of girls I worked with recently, who were all working on the same set of tables, made up another game to play with these cards which they found great fun: all of the cards were put answer-side-up in the middle of the table. I called out a question and they had to grab the card they thought showed the correct answer. They turned the card over to see if they were right, and if they were, they repeated the question and answer and kept the card.  If they were wrong they replaced the card. The winner was the girl with the most cards when they had all been grabbed. All of the children I have used these cards with have really enjoyed it, and I’m sure there are many more games that can be invented using them.

I found the maths wrap while I was browsing the site, and just thought I would give it a go. It’s used for learning tables “in order”, but is great for kinaesthetic learners. Across the top is a strip with numbers 1 to 12. At the bottom is space to put a strip of one of the tables, each of which contains all the answers but jumbled. You have to chant the tables aloud, hunting for the correct answer along the bottom strip and then wrapping the string around the correct number each time. When you have finished you can turn it over to look at the pattern marked on the back. If the children have got all the answers correct, the pattern made by the string will match the pattern printed on the back of the card. When I bought it, I thought it might be one just for the girls, but actually the boys have enjoyed using it just as much. One of my Year 5 boys said “Every child should have one of these. They’re really cool!” I even had texts from two mums, because their sons had been talking so much about how much fun it was that they wanted to know where I got them from so that they could get them as stocking fillers.

As we progressed through the tables we looked at how few they had left. By using counters to demonstrate that for example 2×3 was the same as 3×2, we were able to colour code each new set of tables to show which ones they already knew and which ones were still to be learnt. They learned the easy ones (2x, 5x and 10x) first, which made the chart look less bare, and earned them some shiny stickers pretty quickly. Then they did 4x (easy because it was double 2s). 3x came next (tricky but the colour coding showed that they already knew 2, 4, 5 and 10 x3, so there where only half of them still to learn). Then 6x was easy because it was double 3s. By the time we came to the tricky ones like 7x, the progress chart was looking quite full, and the colour coding showed that they already knew 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10x 7, so all that was left was 7×7, 8×7 and 9×7. Suddenly the sevens didn’t seem so scary and the motivation continued.

Of course it took a long time, although considering the fact that I only see these children once a week it took less time than I expected. In September two of my boys didn’t know any of their times tables, not even 2x or 10x. They now know all of them. Not only do they know them off by heart, but they are able to apply them in all areas of maths, for example working with equivalent fractions. They immediately recognise numbers that are in their times tables which means their skills in division have improved. Their mental arithmetic skills have improved because they can multiply 6 by 7 straight away, instead of having to count up 7 lots of 6 on their fingers, so they have more time to think about what the questions are asking them to do with the information. They have both moved up a maths group at school and their confidence is higher. One of them said to me recently that he used to hate maths, but that he really loves it now. And that’s why I really love my job!

For maths and English tutoring in the north Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall areas, visit www.sjbteaching.com. For links to other interesting education related articles, come and Like my Facebook page.