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How to Memorize the Multiplication Times Tables

Updated on December 27, 2014

How to Help Your Child Memorize the Multiplication Times Tables

Every 3rd and 4th grader around the country is spending a lot of time and energy trying to memorize the multiplication times tables.

As a parent, what are we to do? Sit and watch them struggle every night trying to remember? Throw our two cents in while they're in the middle of it? Do drills with them?

What exactly is the best, fastest, most efficient way to learn the multiplication times tables? Well, the answer isn't just the old adage of "practice, practice, practice." While tutoring children in math, I've learned that some easy tips and techniques truly work and empower kids better than others . . And you'll find them here!

2 Easy Pieces

1. Practice Products Only

2. Daily Quiz

Why Memorization?

If your child is at the memorization stage, then presumably your child has learned the CONCEPT of multiplication. If your child is still struggling with the concept of multiplication (which may be taught to your child as "repeated addition" as in 4+4+4=12, or pictorially as 3 groups with 4 stars in each group), there are better websites for that.

We focus here on the MEMORIZATION of the multiplication times tables because (1) it's a good thing, (2) it's expected, and (3) it's crucial to future math success.

Without lots of practice, and really, without memorization of the basic 12 x 12 multiplication times tables at this stage (of 3rd or 4th grade), a child will likely struggle with math for the rest of his/her schooling (and life). And, if your child is in 5th grade, fear not - more and more students are not memorizing the times tables because the math curriculum is not giving them enough time to do it!

Why is that? Don't know. But, I think it's something like, if you don't learn to memorize the alphabet early on, reading will be an uphill battle.

What I do know is that children who MASTER the multiplication times tables by the end of 4th grade do significantly better in math.

And, remember, MEMORIZATION is different than just doing your nightly multiplication math problems. MEMORIZATION IS MASTERY.

If your children are like most, they didn't come with a handbook. And, they certainly didn't come with a handbook called "how to help me memorize the times tables." I didn't get those handbooks either.

However, God did happen to gift me with not only a brain for math, but also with a brain for teaching math to kids. And, amazingly, it seems to work very well.

Who are you here for?

I'm here for:

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1st Step
1st Step

STEP #1

The Notebook

One of the easiest - and most effective - tools to help your child memorize his/her multiplication tables is to have your child keep his/her own Math Notebook. My tutoring students use a simple 80 or 100 page spiral notebook.

What does this do for your child? It EMPOWERS your child!

Meaning, your child (not you) is now in charge. Wow, does that make your child feel awesome!!! No more answering YOUR questions, or replying to YOUR flashcards, or jumping at YOUR commands.

Instead, your child gets the joy of opening up his/her own Math Notebook and pursuing his/her math knowledge without the Charlie Brown "wah wah wah" noise in his/her brain.

The 99 cent Math Notebook may just be the one most valuable tool in memorizing of the multiplication times tables!

Yahtzee is the Best Multiplication Game Ever

2nd step to memorize times tables
2nd step to memorize times tables

STEP #2

Your Child uses the Math Notebook to Write Lists of Products

Every day, your child will write the PRODUCTS ONLY of a times table a certain number of times.

When your child first starts to memorize a new times table, he/she will write the times table 6 times. As your child's memorization of a times table improves, then he/she will write the products 4 times per day, and then 2 times per day, and then once per day.

So, here's what your son/daughter will do:

1. Write the date at the top of the page.

2. Draw (or make folds) vertical lines down the page to divide the page into a certain number of columns (6 columns if your child can, or if too complex for him/her, then 3 columns, etc.).

3. Remember, this Math Notebook is set up for your child to manage it. Your child wants you to stay as far away from his/her Math Notebook as possible. So, show or help your child make columns - once. So, if making 6 columns is too complicated for your child to do on his/her own, then show them how to make just 3 columns, and use two pages (or 2 sides of one page).

4. Your child will write the PRODUCTS ONLY vertically in each column, and will write as many columns as he/she is supposed to (e.g. 6 times per day).

5. So, for example, for the "3's" times tables, your child will write: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36 (going down, vertically, with one number on each line).

6. For now, don't worry about your child memorizing the fact that 12 is the product of 3 times 4. It will come later. For right now, your child is getting comfortable with the group of numbers associated with a times table (e.g. the idea that these numbers: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36, go with the 3's times tables).

7. Learn & Master only 1 multiplication times table at a time. . . . But, use the notebook to review recently mastered times tables about once or twice per day. For example, if you child is learning the 6's multiplication table, you might also have your child write the 3's and 4's times table once per day.

8. Your child can improve his/her skills even faster if he/she tells you the times table list of products that he/she is memorizing. If your child gets stuck, let them use his/her fingers or a pencil and paper to figure out the next number.

3

6

9

12

15

. . .

3rd step in memorizing times tables
3rd step in memorizing times tables

STEP #3

When Your Child Gets Stuck

When your child gets stuck, suggest to your child that he/she uses one of the following strategies:

1. Use your fingers! Fingers are tools. Your child won't need these tools after he/she has reached a mastery level. But, between now and then, use fingers as a tool. How do you do this? Have the child start with the last product that they know. Let's say he/she is learning the 3's times tables and gets to 24 but forgets what comes next. Then, your child should count on his/her fingers "25, 26, 27" until 3 fingers are used (because he/she is doing the 3's tables).

2. Use pencil and paper to add, using the same process noted above. If your child is learning the 3's times tables and gets to 24 but forgets what comes next, then your child should write 24 + 3, and come up with the answer of 27, and then keep going from there. If your child needs to do this with almost every product, fear not. They are enthusiastically working at it, and will make quick progress!

No Peeking!

Cover

each column

as you go.

4th step in memorizing the math multiplication times tables
4th step in memorizing the math multiplication times tables

STEP #4

Start with the Easy Tables - 2, 5 & 10

Hey, let's do something sane. Let's give your child some self-confidence by having him/her memorize the easy times tables first.

The 2's, 5's and 10's are pretty easy for most kids learning the multiplication times tables. In fact, kids often like to impress us by showing us how long they can count by 2's, 5's and 10's (say, up to 1000!). Go ahead, make their day, let them impress you.

How great would it be if your child was so enthusiastic about math that you actually had to stop them from wanting to impress you all the time? Yeah, life is good.

When Did YOU Memorize Your Multiplication Tables?

When did you memorize your multiplication tables?

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3 Minutes A Day

with

Daily Multiplication Quizzes

will change your child's life!

Multiplication
Multiplication

STEP #5

Daily Multiplication Quizzes

The Daily Multiplication Quizzes is a great way for your child to put what he/she is learning into action! And, it is amazing how quickly students really embrace this Daily Multiplication Quiz and want to excel at it & beat their previous best time. My daughter generally wants to do her quiz first thing in her daily math work.

You can get the entire set of 3 levels of 5 Daily Multiplication Quizzes, plus 2 levels of Multiplication Charts for $1 from my Scribd store here (you can view, download & print it):

Daily Multiplication Quizzes

Your child will time (with a kitchen-type timer) how long he/she takes to do the Daily Multiplication Quiz - and that TIME will be the SCORE. I initially put together a multiplication quiz for my daughter when she was memorizing the times tables. But, I ran into a problem when I was giving her practice quizzes - I never knew if I was giving her too much 7's practice and not enough 12's, or some other imbalance of times tables. So, I assembled a quiz that had problems from every timetable all in 1 quiz. Then I rearranged the problems so that she had a different quiz each day of the week. I wanted her to be able to write the answer to every multiplication pair up to 12 x 12 every day in the fastest, most efficient, concise way possible.

Then, I created 5 quizzes so that she could do one every day. Then I just used the same set of quizzes the next week (because kids can't remember the quiz's format a week later). Then, I created two additional levels of quizzes for my math tutoring students. Then I added Answer Keys so that the students could grade the quizzes themselves. Students just love doing all of this independently without Mom or Dad being in their faces with flashcards! (Sad, but true.) Several of my high school students even saw their algebra improve thanks to these daily multiplication quizzes.

The Quiz contains about 60 multiplication times tables problems - tailored specifically to your child's level, with the top level (Level 3) including almost every multiplication pair up to 12 x 12. The first level (Level 1) is for the easiest tables - 1's, 2's, 5's and 10's. So, your child can get positive feedback quickly in this process.

And, you help your child chart his/her progress. Set up a page in his/her notebook that has a column for the date, the time (that it took your child to do the quiz), and a column for notes. You'll write things like, "Best Score Ever!" in the notes column. [I am amazed how many of my tutoring students need this extra practice in using charts.]

A quiz time of about 2 1/2 minutes or better is mastery. So, your child may be on Level 1 even while he/she starts learning the 3's or the 4's times tables. If you child takes longer than 7 minutes to do the quiz, then the quiz is too overwhelming for him/her. In that case, either go to a lower level quiz, or divide the quiz page in half.

If you want or need to, you can have your child add 5 seconds for incorrect answers and 10 seconds for skipped (or no answer) problems, to encourage the child to attempt and do all of the problems. When your child gets down to below 3 minutes, then after your child has scored less than 3 minutes for 5 days in a row, then move on to the next multiplication quiz level.


Multiplication Step 6
Multiplication Step 6

STEP #6

Multiplication Chart

When I was in school, every day in class we would make our own multiplication chart on a lined piece of paper, and then fill it in. Every day.

Amazingly, many of my tutoring students have never been introduced to the Multiplication Chart. It is a blank chart with the numbers 1 through 12 listed in columns across the top, and 1 through 12 down the left-hand margin. Then, of course, your student fills in the answer of the multiplication problem in the box where a row meets a column.

So, the 3rd row (3) at the 9th column (9) would mean 3 times 9, and the student would fill-in "27" in that box.

Now, there's a method to efficiently and quickly fill-in this Multiplication Chart. And, that's what it's meant for. It is not meant for your child to learn from it, but rather to apply his/her new-found knowledge to it - quickly.

Here's the method:

1. Fill in the row, and then fill in the column for that same Times Table.

2. Start with the 1st row (i.e. the 1's). Then, do the 1's column.

3. Then do the 2's row, and then the 2's column.

4. Then do the 5's row, and then the 5's column.

5. Your child will start to see a pattern form. Your child will see that once things get going, he/she doesn't have to fill-in every single box because of the overlapping nature of the chart! From here on out, some boxes will already be filled-in for your child, and he/she can just skip over it. Yahoo!

6. Then do the 10's row, and then the 10's column. (remember: just add "0" to the number)

7. Then do the 11's row - up to 11 x 9, and then the 11's column - up to 11 x 9.

8. Then do the 3's row, and the 3's column.

9. Then do the 4's row, and the 4's column.

10. Then the 9's row, and the 9's column - remembering to use the "9's Trick"!!!

11. Then fill-in the 12 x 12 box - tell your child that he/she just needs to memorize this box - make it a cool thing to learn - a dozen dozen - also known as a "gross."

12. Then the 6's row, and the 6's column.

13. Then there will only be six empty boxes left. . . . At this point, your child will be amazed that he/she doesn't have two whole times tables left (the 7's and the 8's). Yahoo!

Now, what do you do if your child hasn't learned all 12 times tables? Simply, just have your child practice filling in the rows and columns for each of the times tables that he/she does know. Let him/her see how the pattern develops and the overlapping happens.

There are 2 levels of charts - one with the difficult tables shaded in and one for all boxes up to 12 x 12 blank - at the end of the Daily Multiplication Quizzes. There is a link below of a multiplication chart filled-in with the answers.

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STEP #7

The Order of Memorization

Here's the Order that I've found to be most effective for kids to memorize the times tables:

1's

2's, 5's, 10's

3's, 4's

11's (11's up to 11 x 9)

9's (using the 9's trick)

6's and 12 x 12 = 144

That leaves only a few multiplication pairs left:

(7 x 7), (7 x 8), (8 x 8), (11 x 11) (11 x 12)

However, students should still memorize the 7's and the 8's and the 11's and the 12's as a list of products just like the other times tables.

How Long?

How long do you estimate it will take your child to master the multiplication tables?

I mean, if they're practicing memorizing the times tables every night along with their homework, Monday through Friday, using some or all of these strategies, for 15 minutes.

How long do you estimate it will take your child to master the multiplication tables?

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type=text
type=text

STEP #8

Word Problems

Have your child create his/her own multiplication word problems, possibly with your help. Choose a topic that your child loves. Mine loves horses. So, she would create something like this:

"I have 3 horses. I gave each of them 2 bales of hay. How much hay did I need?"

And, she likes the idea of making money (to buy horses), so she would create something like this:

"If I sold lemonade for $2 a cup, and I sold 10 cups of lemonade, how much money did I make?"

When your child does multiplication word problems, have them do these steps:

1. Draw a picture.

2. Write the equation - without the answer.

3. Figure out the answer (either from memorization of the times tables or by counting using the picture or by another strategy).

4. Fill-in the answer.

5. Label the answer (e.g. "bales of hay" or "dollars" etc.)

Be careful using too many pre-made multiplication word problems. Once your child figures out that all of the word problems are multiplication problems, they'll just start spotting and writing the numbers that they see in the story without reading the actual word problem. It's always a good idea to mix in word problems with other operations.

I like to make my own word problems for my tutoring students - and to build on the answer to the previous problem - which is an easy way to introduce other operations and make the child intentionally read the word problem carefully. (e.g. how much did the list of lemonade supplies cost (addition), sold # of cups of lemonade at $ (multiplication), find the profit (subtraction), etc.)

30 minutes

is the MAX that a child's brain can work on math.

STOP doing math after 30 minutes!

STEP #9

The 9's Trick

Some people know how to do the "9's Trick" with their fingers. I find the following strategy is faster and clearer for those students who have not yet learned the finger-9's-trick:

Let's say the problem is 9 x 4 . . .

> What is one less than 4? . . . (If your child is silent, point out that "4" is the number that 9 is being multiplied with.)

> 3 . . . (write "3" on the page)

> And, 3 plus what equals 9? . . . (Here's where your child counts on his/her fingers up to 9. If your child is stuck on this question, encourage him/her to use his/her fingers.)

> 6 . . . (write "6" on the page next to the "3" and there is your answer - "36")

> Answer = 36

AND, once the kids get the hang of this, they really start filling in the Daily Multiplication Quiz and Multiplication Chart "9's" times tables VERY QUICKLY! It's like a bonus question because it's so easy.

Why do I prefer this method over the finger-9-trick method? I like it better because it shows the student a pattern - i.e. that the digits in a 9's times tables answer add up to 9. I want the student to see that pattern on paper. That pattern works for any multiple of 9, even a number like one thousand seven hundred ten (1,710). The digits add up to 9, so it is a multiple of 9.

(By the way, if the digits add up to a multiple digit number, just keep adding the digits together until you get a single digit, and if it's 9, then it's a multiple of 9. This isn't true of any other times table.)

Keep Track of Improvement!

Want your child to be able to track his/her Daily Multiplication Quiz times & watch his/her improvement?

Get the free chart on my Scribd page when you get the Daily Quizzes.

Tell Us YOUR Multiplication Memorization stories, humor and woes!

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    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 2 years ago

      Denise G - If you still can't print it, email me at tcupishere at yahoo dot com, and I will send you the pdf.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 2 years ago

      Denise G - When you go to Scribd.com and get the quizzes, it downloads to your computer and you can print from there.

    • profile image

      Denise G 2 years ago

      I bought your quizzes. How do I print?

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 3 years ago

      @anonymous: James, That looks like a very interesting website. I'm so glad that it helped your daughter! - Tree

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Housedad! Great question. Yes, I let students get comfortable with the beginning multiplication tables (1's, 2's, 5's & 10's) and THEN I have then do the 1st level of quizzes. So, that way, they see their progress (in their Time of their Quiz) in Mastering the beginning tables. Also, once they can get the 1st Level Quiz done in under 5 minutes, then I start them on the next times table.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      its amazing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      When do you transition between the columns of products to the actual quizzes? Should I let my child get comfortable with the 1, 2, 5 10's and THEN start the quizzes?

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 4 years ago

      @Erin Mellor: It's so true. Learning to pace ourselves & work effectively is a skill. 4th grade multiplication tables is a good place to start that skill.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 4 years ago from Europe

      The reminder to stop after 30 minutes is great, I've had problems with a child who gets really frustrated that they're not "getting it", but won't let go until they do, so the frustration grows.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 4 years ago

      @cookie37061: Glad you like it! Thanks for visiting!

    • profile image

      cookie37061 4 years ago

      Love this! I teach 4th and 5th grade math and multiplication facts are crucial! This is an amazing approach and lots of great information! Thanks so much!

    • profile image

      dellgirl 4 years ago

      This is a really helpful lens, itâs very informative! I learned a lot, thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Try Math Skill Builder to memorize the times table.

      mathskillbuilder.org/memorize_multiplication_table.html

      It is free and it really helps. My child the best in her class now.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Wow, 2nd grade - that's great! Personally, I love the "table" method for the same reason, but if the people teaching the times tables don't appreciate how it works, then it's difficult for the kids to do so.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi. Thanks for all this info. I noticed that your Q about when you learned them didn't include 2nd grade. In the early 70's, I learned mine in 2nd grade and thought it was standard for everyone. I used a times table and I still like that method because one can see the pattern which I don't think comes across very well by memorizing each number in a column by itself. My kids are using that method in school and they haven't learned very well. I admit that they are not as fascinated by numbers (and practically anything) as I am.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi! Sorry to hear that you're struggling with memorizing the multiplication times tables. I know when you visited there were only a few steps listed here. Since your visit, I've added the remaining steps, and the Daily Multiplication Quiz which is key to quizzing yourself and seeing your progress. Hope that your Multiplication Memorization comes together quickly for you!

    • Jasonsuffolk profile image

      Jasonsuffolk 4 years ago from Ipswich, England

      I remember when I first learned my times tables up to the 12 times table. My teacher rewarded me with an extra bottle of milk (this was in the days of free school milk- we all had a free 1/3 pint of milk each day). I totally agree about learning the easy ones first. The whole grid is a little intimidating but if you break it down it's not half as scary.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      hey! I'm a kid looking at this and even I don't think it will work.I'm just gonna get someone my age with my problems to tutor me.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 5 years ago

      @hartworks lm: My favorite movie quote about us math nerds . . . from "Fever Pitch": Female lead asks bunch of 8th grade math nerds is any of them is in the habit of re-arranging numbers & making patterns with them . . . Kid says, "Oh my God, she knows my secret shame!" I feel like that all the time!

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      I come from a very mathematical family. I remember my grandfather (a mathematical physicist) explaining prime numbers to me as I sat on his lap when I was 6 or 7. When I started learning the multiplication tables, I pictured them as lines in a cube, and starting quite early, if I had trouble falling asleep I would do the tables up one wall of the cube and down the other one. Okay, I know I'm weird!

    • Chris-H LM profile image

      Chris-H LM 5 years ago

      Great guide. I love how so many of your lenses focus on educating children. The world needs more of this!

      I noticed that the "Multiplication Times Tables Chart-Blank" and "Multiplication Times Tables Chart-Filled In" links don't appear to be working. Just thought you'd like to know!

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Thanks Josh! Hopefully more kids will have FUN this summer learning their multiplication times tables instead of being tortured by it!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Nice guide! Thanks for sharing! :)

    • MomwithAHook LM profile image

      Sara Duggan 5 years ago from California

      I have fond memories of playing 'around the world' in our class to help us with multiplication tables.

    • profile image

      momsfunny 6 years ago

      Practice makes you better. So keep on doing it. You must be patient in it.