Magical Maths; help your child with times tables


Practice is a great way to help your child with times tables, but your child might not always fancy that!  So here is an informal, fun maths activity to try at home with you.  Maths at home can really boost your child’s numeracy and confidence, and just like reading it can be done for leisure.

It seems that the nature of Maths – often one answer – can lead to a race.  And of course races lead to people losing, which can in turn cause pressure in the classroom.

We have at least one child with a double competitive gene (šŸ˜¬šŸ˜œ) so I want to try and boost his confidence away from the competition and pressure that he obviously feels in the classroom.  After all whilst Maths can feel like a race sometimes slower answers lead to more thoughtful and effective Mathematicians!

At the moment “Saturday Maths Club” will be focusing on multiplication and division.  I think I remember them causing me stress. You get adding sorted, they hand you subtraction. You start to get your head around multiplication and BANG here is division! And it makes you doubt them both!

Time spent now to help your child with numeracy and times tables will be time well spent.  Especially visual help as a deeper understanding (rather than rote learning) will give them confidence and also an ability to apply what they know in different contexts.  There is a space for rote learning though and this book is AMAZING at supporting it!  And my boy loves this game which his school use.

Sorry, waffling on, back to the task!  Simplest it is best. Maths club went a bit wrong last week. I brought in toys which added to my problems #carwars.  However in lots of ways it went really right, as biggest opened up about Maths, and I got more of a handle on how he feels about sums at the moment!

What they sometimes need to hear…

  • Being quick / the first isn’t important. Taking your time to understand is fine!
  • You’re WAY cleverer than you realise. If it hurts your head it means you’re thinking! And that’s fine too!

So here is an activity to help your little ones link multiplication, division and their times tables and give them some images and ways of forming images to refer back to.

The Activity; helping your child with times tables

I had some big coloured squares for them to play around with on the floor and some little ones for making posters with if they fancied it.

Weirdly writing down “The Magic of Maths” on a bit of paper really added to the task.  I thought that it sounded a bit….I don’t know….desperate?? But the first thing my OH heard when he came through the door was an excited “We’ve been doing Magical Maths!!” so I think I’ll be using desperate titles again!

Excitedly telling them that they could make ANY times table as a square* or rectangle also seemed to float their boats.  To get them in the swing, I recommend showing them at least one example (I didn’t want to put Biggest under pressure to get it right but yours might show you).   We also looked together at saying / writing the calculation both ways around.

E.g 3×6=18 and 6×3=18

N.B. I helped Middlest put the multiplication sign into words – “lots of” as he has not covered it at school yet.

The actual task; helping your child with times tables!

They make rectangles and squares and write down multiplication and (for my biggest) division calculations to go with them.

They settled at opposite ends of downstairs for some reason, which was handy as they were free to explore independently.  It also meant that I could chat to biggest about reversing the process ie starting with the total number of squares and splitting them into groups. We didn’t actually take the rectangles apart but talked about how many rows and columns.

Having the rectangle there really helps them see 18 / 3 differently. You can see three rows of six. Or you can ask yourself how many threes in 18 and see six columns of three.

Keep your eye on this post – I feel that I want to add more detail and description!

So in summary we did 18 / 3 = 6 (I used the divide sign with the dots but currently can’t find it! Argh!!!) And of course 18 / 6 = 3

Biggest seemed happy with the general idea without many prompts but it’s going to form a subtle (I hope!) focus for the next couple of weeks as there are so many ways of picturing and describing division.  Visualising different methods will really help your child with times tables and also with their confidence, skills and ability to apply their understanding to problem / reasoning style questions higher up school.

Next Saturday Maths Club!

It wasn’t actually Saturday Maths Club this week. It was wet Tuesday after two games of FIFA ’09 Maths Club when they showed interest.

What really made my day was how it made them feel. Biggest said back to me what I said to him last week and I think he’s starting to believe it šŸ’™šŸ’šā¤ļøšŸ’™  “Saturday Mats Club” will be sticking to multiplication, division and helping your child with times tables for a few weeks.  We hope you stick with us and we would love to hear from you in the comments below! šŸ™‚


  1. I love this!! Actually been trying it with my son and he is living it too!! Thanks for sharing hun!!! Love all your amazing ideas and Iā€™m learning so much from you!! Xx

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