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How to Teach Your 5s Times Table - for Kids

Learning your times table needn't be anywhere near as hard and time-consuming as most people experience. Not because they're stupid, but because the traditional approach to learning them is!

This is certainly not intended to be an attack on those fine parents and teachers who know no better than to put their young ones through the age-old process. But bear with me and see why I believe it's time we shake this whole thing up!

As you read this article, bear in mind there is a very subtle difference between memorizing and remembering tables.

Notes

Note 1

These notes are as relevant for kids as for anyone else but it can be especially embarrassing for kids in a classroom setting if they are struggling with the times table as they are inclined to see this as a problem with their own ability to memorize, when the problem is more often that kids should be taught mental multiplication skills rather than be subjected to the agony of memorizing tables of answers.

Taking these ideas into account may lead to different conclusions when considering the times table for children or specifically boys and girls.

Note 2

Many teachers regard the responsibility of learning the times table as something the student simply has to do, normally in their own time e.g. as a homework assignment. Then the teacher will use teaching time to test their students; to make sure they've completed their assignment. This is not teaching, but testing; and it is often embarrassing or even humiliating for students who have difficulty memorizing those lists of times table answers.

A far better approach, more in line with the expected role of a teacher, would be to actually teach students mental multiplication skill, which they could of course practice as a homework assignment. In the process of helping students develop such skills, the teacher would test as part of coaching that skill. This approach is far less threatening to students.

In recent years, many people have challenged how appropriate it is to attempt to learn the times table up to 12x12. Some prefer to limit the learning objective to 10x10 often citing decimalization as the reason for this, without speaking out the truth which underlies their motivation, being a preference to dumb-down the learning objective as it is then easier to accomplish.

On the other hand, those who value the ability to multiply (typically those who are comfortable themselves and often fail to see the problem through other people's eyes) suggest raising the bar to empower students with skills based on enlarging the times table to cover up to 20x20 or even 100x100. This kind of goal cries out for a skill-based approach, rather than memorization of number facts.

See here for more information about how to take this into account kids, teens and adults.

Note 3

To be clear, you need to define what you mean by '':

You need to decide your overall objective is concerning the times table. Do you want to make the learning process easy, fast or fun? Your very best option would be to satisfy all of these while achieving your desired learning outcomes.

How to Teach Your 5s Times Table - for Kids

Study Multiplication

Here is a breakdown of the 5 times table. With the Numba Ninja System, each multiplication problem has a specific key, and this is underlined for each problem here:

5 times table: up to 12 x 5

0 x 5 = 0
1 x 5 = 5
2 x 5 = 10
3 x 5 = 15
4 x 5 = 20
5 x 5 = 25
6 x 5 = 30
7 x 5 = 35
8 x 5 = 40
9 x 5 = 45
10 x 5 = 50
11 x 5 = 55
12 x 5 = 60

Study Ideas

When attempting larger mental multiplications, there is a tendency for many people to try and replicate the long-hand method used when multiplying on paper. This tends to work from right to left, dealing essentially with the detailed end of the solution before the bigger-picture end. Such paper-based methods do this in order to identify digits that need to be carried over to columns on their left.

This approach, however, presents certain problems in the context of mental multiplication, as there are great practical benefits to be derived from arriving quickly at a big-picture approximation and filling in detail towards the end. Also, our memories are typically not good at working on one problem while trying to remember digits that are due to be carried over.

Also, be aware of why many people consider the times table to be limited to 12 x 12 when, in this decimal era the number 12 seems a rather strange limit. But this goes back to the days of counting in dozens (e.g. 12 inches in a foot) when an English shilling was worth 12 pennies.

In the Numba Ninja System of mental multiplication, for the 5 times table, when 5 is chosen as the key, the Scissors is the picture story that is used.

When 5 is not the chosen key however, other picture stories are used as appropriate.

Teaching Ideas