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Six creative hacks for learning times tables (while not being at school!)

We know school's out for summer and kids just don’t want to learn (well, about school stuff, anyway!), but the reality is that six weeks away from the desk is a long time and keeping the basics alive so the return to school isn’t so difficult can be a good thing.

If you know me, you’ll also know that I am not talking about sitting at a table, going over and over times tables again and again, or even buying a CD to listen to in the car (yes, I know it’s easy, but…!). No, we are talking games. Lots of them!

Sometimes you’ll need number cards, sometimes you won’t, but every time you need fun and laughter! Studies have shown that short term memory can be improved by laughing, so doing something that increases your chance of laughter has to be a good thing, right?!

It’s no coincidence that we usually remember things that make us laugh, even if we think it’s silly – how many advertising campaigns do you remember because they are funny or ludicrously silly? How many phrases do we pick up from comedy shows?

So creating a relaxed and fun environment is a perfect learning space!

Here are six fun ways to learn tables:

1. Jump on a trampoline while answering tables questions and every time you get an answer right or wrong, get squirted with a water pistol – it’s your choice of when to squirt but I can bet you’ll get more right answers if your child gets squirted for it! 🤣

2. Make up silly words for each times table. Say the word before or after each answer. Forget to say it and make up a penalty like running around a bucket three times!

3. On the beach? Write out the answers in the sand or using pebbles. You can do this at home in a sandpit it too – children don’t see writing in the sand as the same as writing on paper, it’s less formal and can easily be rubbed away, never to be seen again! it builds confidence, just like using a whiteboard at school would.

4. Use tables at the shops when you buy more than one item. Obviously, you won’t be asking “What is 3 times £1.57” (or maybe you would!), but just ask for 3x7, 3x50 and/or 3x100 or £1. You can add the totals up or do it together! Awareness of breaking down numbers to multiply is great and will let your child see how times tables are relatable to everyday life.

5. For younger children just starting out, use groups of things to add (repeated addition is the basis for multiplying) – groups of shells, groups of twigs, groups of toys, groups of leaves…

6. Hide and seek answers. Hide the answers on cards (or how about iced cookies?!) around the garden, park or woods, give the question and let them find the answer! You can vary the questions for a group of children and hide a few cookies with different answers on. They can only eat the cookie if they return with the right one!

Just a few fun Maths games to play through the summer to keep those cogs turning ⚙️and remember whatever you do, keep laughing!

Have fun and stay cool!

Debbie x

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