In a different thread, I talked about times tables. The concept is too important to get buried in that thread, so I'm starting a new one. I tutor 8th grade Math. Kids struggle in upper grades, often for no other reason than someone dropped the ball in the lower grades. Math is cumulative. It builds on what you learned the year before. Therefore, every child I meet hears me talk about times tables and how to learn them. Here's my speech: How many of you have a tv? Good - most of you. Ok, how many of you have a tv with a remote control? Ok. On your remote control is a button called mute M-U-T-E. At my house we call it the "shush button." (Those commercials are loud!) Here's what I want you to do. Put your flashcards on the table, next to the remote. You're sitting there watching iCarly, and a commercial comes on. Pick up the remote, mute the sound, and flip through your flash cards during the commercial, about 2 or 3 minutes. Oh look, the show's back on. Set your cards down, turn the sound back up, watch iCarly. Next commercial, do it again. If you will go through your flash cards every time there is a commercial on, I promise that you will know them all within 2 weeks. (end speech.) I used flashcards to memorize various formulae for a test, when I was at a red light, at a basketball game (when my son was on the bench) or in line at the post office. We're not talking higher level thinking, just memorizing. Times tables flashcards are about $2 at Walmart in the book & magazine section, but I saw some in the $1 section of Target last week. I may go buy up every pack they have, to hand out... Best to you.

GREAT idea!!! My twins are heading to 4th grade and I am DETERMINED to send them knowing their times tables backwards and forwards...I'm convinced it will make it a better year for us all. Problem is convincing them! This is a great way to do this without making it seem like their world has to end for twenty minutes to sit and memorize the facts. Starting right now! BTW...do you recommend having them memorize their 3s and then move on to 4s, etc. or just throwing them all in their at once?

Well 0's, 1's, 2's, 5's, 10's, and 11's are easier than the rest, but I just went in order with my third graders. 6-9's will frustrate them, so maybe build up some confidence first? You can teach them the hand trick with the 9's, but I'm against fancy shortcuts. JUST MEMORIZE THEM. I don't know when we stopped....

Groovy, I love your speech! My kids worked on them at random times, getting ready for bed, at the dinner table, red lights, while they brushed their teeth, or basically any moment I could steal to make sure they learned them. I can't imagine trying to teach upper grades math who've skipped their time tabes, we don't test them formally so it's not pushed in 3rd grade like it used to be. They don't have to know them because they can use calculators which is a crime as far as I'm concerned.

Yes...So far I have been doing flash cards including those numbers and adding the "other" ones one step at a time. They can easily figure them out (hand trick, counting, etc.) but I really want them to have them memorized. I have taught 5th the past three years and only about 10 percent of the kids knew their facts...almost IMPOSSIBLE to teach them long division, area/perimeter, etc. when they get SO hung up on the facts part of it. I don't want that to be my kid! Great suggestions

Love your idea, but it would really help if parents got involved. Heard many times this past year - my child doesn't want to learn their facts because it's not fun, can they just use a calculator? !!!!!

Sure, it would help if the parents got involved, but we can't always count on that. I can't control what goes on at home, but I have a lot of control in the classroom. I would get the kids excited about it. Idea: Have them make their own flash cards, assign partners & have them quiz each other every time we have 5 minutes to spare. Idea: Give them a 100-problem (timed 5-minute) quiz every day. (The reason for timing it is so you know that they have them memorized, not to give them all day to calculate each problem on their fingers...) Idea: Give them a goal to shoot for, and celebrate those who have achieved it. If the kid is excited enough, and the teacher makes a BIG DEAL about it, it can happen with or without the parents' support. Good luck. Best to you.

That would be 20 questions a minute. I know that I would be unable to answer the majority of that in 5 minutes. Also, we learned multiplication in 4th grade here, long division in fifth. One thing I was never taught, because my 7th grade math teacher said "it was unnecessary" was cross-multiplication of fractions. Now that threw me off for the rest of my taking math - didn't help that when i've been formally evaluated by a competent evaluator that I show up as having the math grade equivalent of 8.7

My kids always know them in 3rd grade, but we get complaints from 4th grade teachers about the kids not knowing them. It tells me that they're not practicing at all during the summer! I do timed multiplication tests with my kids every day, and I also have them practice flashcards when we're lined up for the bathroom! I always think if our 4th grade teachers would do some of these activities, the kids would pick it up quickly. It would be even better if parents used your tips during the summer!

I have my niece visiting me who is bound for 5th grade. I was shocked that she struggled with her times tables. My hubby & I have been drilling her at home and have seen a remarkable difference. I can hardly imagine upper grades without a mastery of multiplication.

Oh, if you only knew!!!! For the past few years I've taught freshman math. In the middle of a factoring lesson, I'll ask for 2 factors of 56 that add or subtract to -1. Dead silence. "Come on, guys, it's a times table number. What times what is 56??" more dead silence. There's no way I can explain it, no tricks that will take the place of the kids knowing those times tables. If you don't know your times tables, you can't factor. That means that, until you see the Quadratic Formula in 2 years, you can't solve a quadratic equation. That means you can't do any of the many different types of verbal problems we cover that turn out to be quadratic equations. And it means that every single quadratic you see in geometry is a wash. (And we do a lot of them, hoping to keep those factoring skills sharp.)

Suggestion: Play a variation of the card game "War" with the kids. I take Kings out of the deck, count Jacks and Queens as 11 and 12 respectively, and Aces as 1. The deck is handed out so each player has the same number of cards. Each player flips a card. In order to win, one person must multiply the two cards and shout out the answer. I have played this with all the kids I have tutored, and even though (or maybe because) they were competing against me, they were eventually able to win. (OK - I let them win when they got quick. Don't tell!)

SuperSpeed Math is an excellent and surprisingly fun way to master the times tables. My class asks to "do it again" but I only LET them do it once per day. I highly recommend it.