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Counting On It

I was on the playground yesterday with the girl’s American Heritage Girls scouting troop.  While the little women were working on their badges with their groups, the moms were congregated by the playground, watching younger siblings frolic.

And btw, BC (before children) I envisioned trips to the park with my children in tow to be relaxing moments of respite.  While I sat on a park bench, surrounded by trees and flowers, and my children explored the wonders of the playground equipment.

I’ve since learned that sitting at the park only happens when I have wrestled Jensen to the dirt, after giving chase when has taken off in the general direction of the freeway.

Thankfully this didn’t happen yesterday, only because he is now enamored with the joys of the swing.  Which he managed to fall out of.  Twice.  And both times he simply looked dazed, dusted himself off, and got back in the saddle.

There is nothing like the sense of joy and freedom spread across a 4 year olds face as he swings into the air, with the greatest of ease.  Until he falls off onto his head.

But whatever.

Where was I?  Oh yes, the park.

The moms (many of which homeschool) were deep in conversation about math curriculum.  Math is a hot topic around our house lately since multiplication has entered the fray.  Wherein a certain 4th grader would spit on the ground in disgust if her mother would allow her.

And by happy coincidence, Mom’s Homeroom just launched a new episode on building Math skills.

So, here’s my question to you all.  Homeschoolers and parents with kids in school.

Do you all have any creative ideas to help with the learning of the multiplication tables? A few years ago, I wrote about how I used tossing a ball to aid in skip counting.  But clearly I need some fresh ideas!


30 Responses to Counting On It

  • Nope. No helpful, creative tips. Just sitting here waiting for your comments to fill up so I can steal ideas…

  • these helped me a lot when I was a kid and having trouble with multiplication. I could only find an Uk website, but I know you can find them in the U.S. I have seen them.



  • You probably already have your math curriculum but I highly recommend you get Math U See. My daughter has had a terrible time with it until I switched to that curriculum this year. Much easier to understand and she retains it. 🙂 Also one of their tricks which she loves is after you teach it have your child teach it to you. She loves getting to “teach” Mom and she seems to pay better attention.

  • How about arranging groups of fruit? Like, showing two groups of three apples to show 2×3, and three groups of two apples to show 3×2, and observing not only the product itself (6) but the fact that you have the same product either way.

    And if that doesn’t work well, you can always make a pie.
    I like the way you think. 😉


  • One Minute Math drills http://www.rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?sid=1256135112-899542&subject=10&category=2461 has been working well for us. If they get 100% on the quiz, no more math facts that day. If not, they have 15 minutes of practice. My ds8 uses factsfirst.com for practice, ds10 uses a Flashmaster. They are very motivated to get a 100% and skip practice time 🙂

  • Pray and hide your head in the sand until it’s over. My 19 year old still skip-counts on her fingers.

  • My boys came home with a lot of “tricks” for memorizing but my favorite is “I ate and I ate and got sick on the floor; 8 times 8 is 64.” Jensen should like that one!!!

  • My mom used Multiplication Wrap-Ups years and years ago. They worked well for me. I remember that she had an accompanying CD with songs called “The Wrap-Up Rap” that rapped out the mutiplication tables. Here’s a link

  • I don’t know about learning, but for practice my daughter and I play a game with a deck of cards. She gets two cards, I get two cards. She has to figure out the product of each set and the person with the highest answer gets the four cards. At the end, the one with the most cards wins. She likes this more than filling in practice worksheets.

  • When my oldest two had to learn their multiplication tables, their teacher had a ice cream sundae party. For each set they learned, they were awarded a part of the sundae. For example, the 1’s were the bowl, the 2’s were the spoon, etc. It was great motivation for my two! Good luck with it. I hate when they have to start learning the multiplication tables. It seems to cause an inordinate amount of stress.

  • I wish!

    My 16-year-old daughter exclaimed the other day while doing her math, “I can’t wait till I’m a mom and I can torture my kids with math lessons.” 😛

  • I hated math as a kid! But thank goodness of two things. Hubs is a teacher and my oldest is a math wiz!!

  • Classical Conversations has a memory work CD and on that CD is skip counting each set to a tune. We started in Sep and both my girls have memorized up through the 14’s table with NO YELLING on my part! They just sing along with the jingles. Not sure of the price but even if you don’t use anything else on the CD it may be worth it just for that. BTW they also learned 40 prepositions and a bunch of other stuff and honestly it is no effort on my part. They just like to sing along. Fair warning: you may have moments when you SERIOUSLY consider yanking the CD out and jumping up and down on it. Best advice-load it on an ipod and get them headphones. 🙂

  • Only trick I knew was a chart posted on the back of the WC door. You couldn’t help but stare at it.

  • Um . . . I came up with a rap song and humiliated myself in front of my children (over and over again) – to their utter enjoyment.

  • Try good ol’ Multiplication Rock…from School House Rock…still works. Research shows that music enables us to retain information much longer.

  • I taught for several years, and in my classroom we had a multiplication ball. I took a regular playground ball (the kind that are in the big bins at the grocery store) and drew a grid all over the ball. Inside each square made by the grid, I wrote a number. The kids would toss the ball and whatever 2 numbers your thumbs landed on they had to multiply together. If they got the answer correct, they got to toss it to another kid.

  • We’ve had good luck with Math-U-See’s skip counting CD. You don’t need to use the curriculum to use the CD, and the music could easily be called cheesy, but it worked for us! Even my 4 year old knows his 4s and 6s.

    We also have the Mythmatical Battles card game. This is a game for big kids, 4th/5th and up, and definitely designed for boys, but a great game. My son BEGS to play this! An extra advantage-It teaches a bit of history and lots of mythology!

  • I keep thinking about Jensen on that swing….he was soooooo happy to be there with his Mama! It was the sweetest thing!

    I just read about a multiplication game in a home schooling book I have called Circles and Stars. It is a dice game. Roll one die and make that many circles on your paper. Roll another die and make that many stars on the inside of each circle. Write out the multip. sentence to go with that problem. Have your child count the stars in each circle for the total. For example…two circles with three stars in each circle equals six stars. (2×3=6) Take turns rolling the dice and illustrating the number sentences. Have your child add all the products each person has with a calculator to see who wins.
    The author also recommended Math Shark…a small hand held calculator with timed self-directed games.

  • Timez Attack.

    That’s all I have to say. Google it. Oh, and it is free (at least, we only have the free version–you can pay $20 or so and get the full version, but you don’t need it.)

    They will play if for as long as you will let them, and come out multiplying so fast they might blind you with their speed.

  • I’ve been looking at Times Tales to solve
    that problem here too.
    The sample is good, they use picture
    stories to learn the facts.
    I’ve heard bribery might work too.

  • I have tons of tricks up my sleeve–as a former elem. school teacher, now home school mom….. If your child is an auditory learner/kinesthetic learner the Rock and Learn CD’s are fun. My students liked to move and the times tables are set to a rap beat. (actually a bunch of rodents singing–whatever….)
    Visual learners liked the big numbers chart we had. (the kind that actually have the numbers that one slides into the number chart pockets.) It allowed them to see the patterns that are created when multiplying numbers. Also I used Unix cubes to give a concrete example that multiplication is really just “fast adding”. Once we got that concept it went more quickly. Some kiddos liked to time themselves with flashcards/computer games and then try to beat their fastest time in getting a set of times tables “done”.
    All in all just remember multiplication tables are all about memorization–the more practice the more likely one is to remember.
    Woo hoo!! Teaching is fun. Right? Right???? RIGHT???!!!!!

  • Oh, oh, me! Pick me! We memorized the skip counting to songs we know- and I have even been known to “cheat” and sing them in my head…2’s and 5’s we went by rote but 3’s are set to Jingle bells, 4’s to a song I doubt anyone else knows-sorry, The wheels on the bus for 6’s, 8’s to Eidelweiss(Julie Andrews would be SO proud!) and 9’s to Away in a Manger- sorry that the 4’s and 7’s are songs I doubt anyone knows. The were on a kid’s kareoke thing we have- write out the no’s in sequence and see which fav. tune pops into your mind- after coffee, of course!

  • Math U See has been a life saver for us!!

  • When I taught, money was always tight for fancy supplies. But I always had an abundance of paper clips. And I used those as manipulatives to teach multiplication. Because the clips can be individual, or can be linked up to create groups. Say you need a group of 6, you get 6 paperclips and link them into a chain. Then you create the number of groups you need for the problem. Voila! And the beauty always was that I never NEVER stressed out about losing my manipulatives…because they were paperclips!

  • Interesting ideas here, I’m going to have to store them away. My eldest (now seven) has been working on her multiplication (off and on) for several months now, purely out of interest on her part (none on mine, I assure you)…

    Anyway, one thing that we’ve done for both homework and multiplication is use marshmallows for incentive.

    She gets one marshmallow for every homework problem that is NOT ONLY correct, but also properly written in legible English. I’m not above sugar-coated candy bribery when it comes to schoolwork. :O) And we’ve done some of the 2’s, 3’s and 4’s of multiplication with marshmallows, arranging and re-arranging them…

    You could also use raisins or raisinets, or jelly beans, or even just regular beans, if you don’t want them to have the sugar. I always think visualization helps, but knowing your daughter’s learning style should help you narrow down what methods you try.

    Good luck! :O)

  • “I envisioned trips to the park with my children in tow to be relaxing moments of respite. While I sat on a park bench, surrounded by trees and flowers, and my children explored the wonders of the playground equipment”. Hahaha! Were we really that delusional???

  • My kids really appreciated this site which explains why you really don’t have to memorize so many of the facts. It was very interesting to all of us and made the whole process seem less overwhelming to them.

    So we went through this site, easily learning the 0s, 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s, memorizing the squares, and learning the key for the 9s (product’s tens digit is one less than the number being multiplied by 9; product’s ones digit is 9 minus tens digit). That took care of a whole lot of them!

    Then we learned the rest as that site recommends and then drilled them all to death with flash cards.

  • oops. The site address didn’t post. trying again…

  • Well, rackum frackum. Here’s the natural math site, I hope.