Maths is one of those things that despite research to the contrary, people think they are either good at maths or not. Playing games and experimenting with numbers in a playful way can help children to see that maths is not something to be afraid of.

Recently, we have been playing games to help with the fluency of multiplication facts. I am a big believer in children understanding why as opposed to just learning by rote. I couldn’t care less if my children know all their times tables if when asked why 3×2=6 they cannot justify their answer. From a young age children need to be taught to justify their answers because as they get older and the learning becomes deeper they will then not be able to just give an answer and that is it. Playing games with numbers will help you as a family or teacher discuss numbers on a deeper level than just whether or not the answer is right or wrong.

If your child is new to multiplication start with the x2 tables and then gradually introduce x10 and x5.

We then work on x11 x3 x4 x6 and finally x7 x8 and x9. Moving too quickly will confuse your child and even though they could be very quick at learning the facts, it’s the concrete concept that helps child build on their learning. It takes lots of practice to gain the fluency needed to have the instant recall of 3×4=12 and then use the knowledge to work out that 12÷4=3.

**When we play games we generally choose 1 set of cards to begin with and move on to others individually before using several sets in 1 go. **

Maths flashcards seem to be used frequently in 2 ways, either rote learning to memorize all facts and for speed. There is no research to prove if you are quick at maths then you are good at it. Taking away the time pressure will aid your little mathematicians to deepen their understanding as you discuss the numbers whilst playing and visually represent the answers with counters, lego and sticker dots etc. By building time table towers or arrays ( the answer visually arranged in columns and rows) together your child will be able to see maths as a visual subject.

**Let your children count using counters or their fingers. There is a lot of research to prove that using counters or their fingers helps children to deepen their understanding .**

Here are links to 2 research based articles about the benefits of using our fingers to count when using numbers at home or in class.

One of my most favourite quotes is from Jo Boaler Professor of Maths Education at Stanford university who says “if we use the analogy of mathematics and music, we would never have musicians if people learning music only ever shifted notes around on a page.”

Here are** 5 quick and easy games** with minimal set up for you to play to enjoy learning times tables. Jo Boaler believes that it is not in the knowing of your times tables, as like me she does not know all of hers by rote. – I feel in good company! It is in the ability to work it out.

Here is a list of the equipment you will need.

**1.Multiplication fact cards -free printable
2. **

**Multiplication answer cards – free printable**

3. Stickers to add to blocks to make dice

4. Dice or upcycled preschool building blocks

**5. Arrays race board – free printable**

6. Whiteboard and marker

**(optional could use paper and pencil if needed)**

**7. Lego, counters or other manipulatives to aid seeing the answers visually**

**(optional)**

**1. Multiplication Toss**

The aim of the game is to gain as many fact cards as possible by throwing the dice and finding the fact cards that match the answers on the dice. This game is for 2 or more players.

**Resources Needed**

Multiplication fact cards.

Dice with answers for required times table

Counters or manipulatives to visually aid seeing the answer if needed

**How To Play **

Lay out all the time tables fact cards.

Sit in a circle.

Throw the 2 dice.

Find the fact cards that match each of the answers on the dice.

Collect the fact cards.

Keep playing until all the fact cards are taken.

**Discussion Points And Questions**

Older children will soon realise that whoever starts the game has an advantage as all the cards are free. Discuss the idea of chance and probability as the dice rolls.

Would it be fair for the same person to always go first?

Why is it that at times the same numbers keep coming up even though between the 2 dice there are 12 faces?

What are the chances of rolling a 5 for example?

**2. Matching Pairs**

The aim of the game is to find an answer card to go with a fact card. This game is for 2 or more players.

**Resources Needed**

Multiplication fact cards and answer cards.

Counters or manipulatives to visually aid seeing the answer if needed

**How To Play**

Shuffle the answer and fact cards together. Lay out the answer cards and fact cards of 1 or more times table face down.

Take it in turns to turn over 2 cards.

If the cards match e.g. 4×5 and 20 collect the cards and have another go. If they do not match return them to their original spot.

Play continues until all the cards have been collected.

**Discussion Points And Questions**

When playing this game if your child thinks that 5×7=40 instead of just correcting get them to count on as repeated addition. Using this strategy works for all times tables and concretes the number sequence. 5…10…15…20…25…30…35

What strategy did you use to remember the cards location?

How do you know 5×11 is 55?

Why does it get easier as the game moves along?

**3. Face Up**

The aim of the game is to find an answer card to go with a fact card. This game is played exactly the same way as matching pairs, only the cards are placed face up instead of face down. The reason for this is because, remembering where the cards are is a skill in itself. If children are only just learning about times tables, we do not want to confuse them with the added pressure of a memory game too.

**Resources needed**

Multiplication fact and answer cards

Counters or manipulatives to aid visually seeing the answer if needed

**How To Play**

Place the fact cards and answer cards face up.

Take it in turns to take a fact card and answer card.

If they match the player keeps both and has another go. If not the cards are returned to same spots.

Keep playing until all the cards are taken.

**Discussion Points **

Discuss with your child and build the times tables together. Sometimes it is only in the seeing and doing that children actually concrete a concept.

Once you have played the game the fact cards and answer cards could be put into numerical order to reinforce repeated addition as a strategy.

**4. War**

The aim of the game is to win all the cards in the deck. The game is for 2 players

**Resources Needed **

Multiplication fact cards

Whiteboard/paper and marker

Counters or manipulatives to visually aid seeing the answer if needed

**How To Play**

Shuffle and place in a pile the multiplication fact cards that you are working on.

Each player takes a card and places it face up infront of them.

The winner of each round is the player with the highest answer e.g. 2×6 would lose against 10×6 as 10×6 produces a bigger number 60 in comparison to 12.

If the cards taken are of the same value (eg 4×5 and 5×4 both equal 20 or 5×8 and 4×10 both equal 40) then those cards are placed in the centre and you take another card each. The person with the highest value takes all 4 cards.

Play continues until all cards have been taken.

This game could also be played so the lowest value wins.

**Discussion points**

Children might not necessarily realise that 4×5 and 5×4 are the same. It is only by practically working with numbers and making arrays and towers do children visually see how the numbers stack up. War is a great game to talk about equivalence and balance in number.

If we know that 5×4=20 what do we think 5×5 could be?

If we know that 5×4=20 what do we think we might have to divide 20 by to get 4?

**5. Arrays Race**

The aim of this game is to gain the most space on the board by colouring in arrays either rectangle or square boxes. This game is for 1 or 2 players and can be played in a variety of ways. On their own they can see how many arrays they can squeeze together without any overlap. When playing with a partner children can either use their own board and the object is to squeeze as many arrays on their board and the winner is the person with the least amount of blank squares available or share a board and the winner is the person who has the most colour on the board.

**Resources Needed**

Multiplication facts cards

Arrays race printable board or squared maths paper

**How To play**

Shuffle and place in a pile the multiplication facts cards you are working on.

Each take a card and draws out the array on the printable board or squared paper.

So for example player 1 has card 3×2 and draws a blue array and player 2 has card 4×11 and draws a yellow array. (pictured above)

Play continues until the players have filled the board(s) and can go no further. Winner is the person with the least amount of blank squares remaining.

**Discussion Points**

When playing discuss with your child the importance of squeezing in as many arrays as possible so placement is very important. The higher the answers on the cards the more likely you are to win. Probability and chance also feature in this game too.

Why are lower answer cards less likely to help you win?

Why do we need to give the cards a good shuffle?

Have fun, great conversations and relax together. Playing games together will not only aid mathematical ability but is great family time too!

And, of course there is always snap. Snap is the most wonderful game that has stood the test of time. If playing with multiplication or the other operations, it is not going to be as fast as if you are just matching numbers, shapes or colours. Still a fun way to learn…

Happy counting xx

I remember the days when my father asked my siblings and I to recite the multiplications to him. When we got it right we could move up to the next level and when we got it wrong we had to recite again the following week. It was not a very fun way to learn the multiplications, not the least to say very stressful.

You are so right it is more important to understand the concept and principle of multiplications rather than rote learn. We have calculators for that!

Thank you for all the great ideas. I especially found the discussion points most useful.

LikeLike

Thank you for your great comments. Discussions around numbers are vitally important to understanding. Glad you like tge ideas.

LikeLike