Learning Multiplication Tables ... Any Tricks up Your Sleeve?

Updated on July 18, 2013
☼.S. asks from Chula Vista, CA
23 answers

Hi Moms,
I need to get my soon-to-be 3rd grader going on learning multiplication tables this summer. From what I've heard, they hit it hard and heavy once school's back in session and we need to start now so she's ready. I just purchased flash cards, but need to lay the groundwork first before using those. So ... any great multiplication "systems" or methods that your school used or that you discovered on your own that could get us started? When I learned them waaaaaay back it was just memorization, one by one. I'm thinking that there is a better, more fun way of learning them now.


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Thanks so much, ladies; some really great ideas here!

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answers from San Francisco on

I wish pinterest had been around when my kids were learning these (and other facts)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We homeschool, and I made my daughter MEMORIZE her multiplication tables. First we went over what multiplication was so that she understood what she was memorizing. Then we started with the memorization with flashcards.

We did the 0s first, then the 1s, then the 10s and the 11s. Get the easy ones out of the way.

Then we did the 2s, 4s and 8s.

After that we hit the 3s, 6s, 7s and 9s. Lastly we did the 12s. By the time you get to the 12s there's only one left to memorize, just 12 x 12!

We did small prizes once every number was completely memorized and then a big prize when she knew them all (we took her out to dinner to celebrate). She thought it was fun! We supplemented the flashcards with online multiplication games.

We also did M&M math! She earned one M&M for every flash card she got right. That was her favorite. We kept it fun because memorization can be boring but NECESSARY.

Math is much easier for her now that she has her multiplication tables memorized. In fact, she's only 12 but now she's doing high school math!

Keep it fun!

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answers from Wichita on

Hi, LeeLee,

As a high school math teacher, I need to emphasize the importance of having the multiplication tables MEMORIZED. I know...it doesn't sound all that fun, but I can tell a huge difference between those students who have it memorized versus those students who have to go through a song/game/hold up their hands and put down one finger/etc. This literally separates my students who can handle the upper level math that the new Common Core State Standards are pushing, from the students who can hardly make it through our lower level math classes (Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, etc.). If you have plans for your child to go to College someday, then bare minimum they will require that your child is able to successfully make it through an Algebra 2 class....and if your child spends more time trying to remember some way of remembering a product (answer to a multiplication problem) then they are not going to be able to handle a class like Algebra 2.

Now, as I say this, I don't mean to be a boring teacher or critique the methods that other moms have listed. There are some really great ideas already listed for you. I just want to caution you about this becoming a crutch for your daughter.

Multiplication is really about repeated addition and grouping items. If you have 5 teams with 10 kids on each team, then it would take you a lot of time to count, one-by-one, all the kids playing that sport. Whereas, multiplication allows us to quickly bypass that counting. Teach this to your daughter. Explain that if they are small groups, then it may be just as fast to ADD the items up, BUT multiplication becomes really important when you start getting to bigger numbers. We learn the smaller multiplication facts to help us build to bigger situations. Also remember to emphasize that all of the groups need to have the same amount in them for multiplication to work (in other words you cannot do multiplication if one team has 9 kids, another team has 10 kids, etc.).

Good luck!

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answers from Washington DC on

Rote memorization via flash cards works best.
As a math teacher, I can tell you that kids just need to know their math facts -- and they don't.
So -- work with your child. Start with zeroes, 1s and 2s. Get those so you can flip through them quickly before you add the 3s etc.
You need to go all the way to 12x12.

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answers from Chicago on

Memorization is so important.

I remember having races to see who could learn their multiplication tables the fastest, as well as who could complete multiplication worksheets the fastest (and with the most accuracy).

For the 5's it is easy to set it to music: Yankee Doodle
5 x 5 is 25 and 5 x 6 is 30.
5 x 7 is 35 and 5 x 8 is 40.
5 x 9 is 45; 5 x 10 is 50.
5 x 11 is 55 and 5 x 12 is 60.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

For the nines, you have the numerals in order going up and going down, and the product always starts with the digit one less than the multiplicand.
9 x 1 = 09 (0 is 1 less than 1)
9 x 2 = 18 (1 is one less than 2)
9 x 3 = 27
9 x 4 = 36
9 x 5 = 45
9 x 6 =54 (at this point the order of digits in the product switches and the
products are simply the reverse of the ones before - 54 and 45
the same digits in reverse order).
9 x 7 = 63 (63 and 36 are mirror images).
9 x 8 = 72
9 x 9 = 81
9 x 10 = 90

If you look down the column of first digits in the products, you will see th e numbers in order ###-###-####. If you look down the column of second digits in the product, you will see those same numbers in reverse order ###-###-####.

Also, the digits in the product add up to 9.

So if you can't remember that 9 x 6 = 54, if you know that because you're multiplying by 6, the answer will start with 5, and the digits will add up to 9, then it's easy to figure out that the second digit is 4.
This is why the cool finger trick works, and also the basis for so many of the "mind-reading" tricks that involve picking a number. At some point in the trick, something gets multiplied by nine, and from then on, they all work the same.

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answers from Chattanooga on

I had such a hard time with multiplication tables. I actually had to be pulled from the regular math class, and taught in another class because I just couldn't memorize them.

I learned rhymes for them all... I can't remember most of them, but I still automatically remember 7x7=49 by thinking '7 men tried 7 times to join the 49ers.' Also, '8 times 8 is 64, shut your mouth and say no more.'

I also learned that with the 9s, you put down whatever finger you are multiplying by, and your hands will give you the answer. So, holding both hands open in front of you, palm out, you have 10 fingers up. If you are multiplying by 4, you put down the 4th finger from the left (your left index.) so you have 3 fingers up on the left side, and 6 on the other. So the answer is 36. If you multiply by 6, you would put down your right thumb, leaving 5 fingers and 4 fingers... So 54.

I still don't know most of them off the top of my head. :/ lol.

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answers from Boston on

I'll caveat this with the fact that school systems have way different ways of teaching this so unless she's behind, I wouldn't really bother much at all because you don't want to spend time teaching a method that is totally different from what she'll learn in school. That said, at the end of the day no matter how you teach is, 6 x 7 is still 42 no matter what.

I would start with going to the website for whatever system your school district uses and see what they have. Our district uses Everyday Math and there is a companion website with games and exercises on it. Her school's website may also have a recommended links page.

My oldest son was behind with this in 4th grade so I found a system called Times Tales. It was a flip book of silly cartoons like "Mr. & Mrs. Snowman eat 6 snow cones 4 times a day" where the snowmen were the number 8 and the 6 snow cones and 4 times a day were the 64. He learned the facts from 6 and over in about an hour after struggling with them for almost 2 years. So there are inventive ways of learning these, but start with her existing curriculum to see if what they have works so that she'll be learning terminology and methods that will be familiar in the classroom too.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Google free multiplication games on line. There were lots of beat the clock type games my kids liked.

Also, teach your child how to count by 3, 4, 5 etc. I think multiplication came so easy to my kids because they could skip count.

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answers from New York on

yes, when it comes to the 9s, the answer always adds up to 9, and always starts with a digit before the multiplier.

1x9 = 9
2x9= 18 the first digit in 18 is 1 less than 2 and 1 +8 = 9
3x9= 27 the first digit in 27 is 1 less than 3 and 2+7 =9

Can't offer any other "tricks"

F. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

@Fuzzy - OMG I never realized all that!!!!!! That's kinda cool :-)

University of Chicago rolled out a math program "everyday math" that is being used in a large number of schools. They use "fact families".

You cut a piece of paper into a triangle. Then you would put a piece of the "fact family" in each corner


4 8

So then everything corresponds to each other.....

She had a bunch of different triangles and it seemed to work for all the kids.

They also learned to count on a grid - which NEVER made sense to me. But my brother is an engineer and scored a perfect score on the math section of the ACT and said it made perfect sense to him and that it was a really great way to teach the visual component to math.

All I know.... is memorization, memorization, memorization.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

If you can find the old "Multiplication Rock" video (I don't know if it was ever on DVD - it was on VHS long ago), there are well-done songs and animation that can help learning - or at least are fun to sing. Memorization isn't such a chore or a bore unless the teacher or the child chooses to make it so. I know the nine trick, and the fives and the twos are easy. If your child likes charts, you can find online multiplication charts, and it could be fun to find how it all fits together, sort of a jigsaw puzzle.

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answers from Chicago on

Skip the flash cards. multiplication tables need to be memorized. I had a teacher who had us learn them just like you learned the abc's. just by rote. so you never had to think about it.

start with the 1's
1x1=1, 1x2=2 etc. she had us do them and then timed us on saying them. when you got one's down you got to move on to two's and so on.

and fyi they don't "know" them unless you can say what is "X x X" and they give you the right number. you should be able to ask them the numbers out of order. like 1x1 =1 and then skip to 1x6=6 that's how you tell if they really know them.

once they have those things down then they have a solid basis for division. there may be shorter more fun ways but the best is the way we did it long time ago lol. we knew it down pat. no questions. do it the old fashioned way and then let them mess with the fun stuff at school since you know he / she will have it down good.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

My son's Montessori did NOT do rote memorization and my son knew his tables up through 10s at age 6 (kindergarten). Actually they knew the cubes of numbers through 10, not just times tables. They did it by using real manipulatives - the kids used beads in sets that they could see and touch. It makes math so much more concrete and much more fun. Look on line for Montessori math chains and you should be able to find plenty of info. If they see how the numbers work, they are so much better at manipulating them - adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing - including fractions.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Okay, this is how my grandfather taught me the multiplication tables.

You need to memorize the 2s, 5s, and 7s. After this you can apply a trick using addition or subtraction to get the others.

The 9s are easy because you can use your hands. Holding up both hands count off each finger starting from your pinky on your left hand. Put down the ring finger on your left hand for 9x2, and count the fingers on each side. You have 1 and 8, the answer is 18. 9x3, you have 2 and 7 for 27, and so on for the 9s.

To get the 3s simply add the number of what you are taking 3x to the answer for 2. Example: 2x2=4 So 3x2= (2x2) or (4) +2=6 , 3x3= (2x3) (6)+3=9 So to get the 3s add the number you a taking 3x to the answer for the 2s.

To get 4s, you subtract the number you a taking it times from the answer of the 5s.

To get 6s, you add the number to the answer of the 5s.

To get 8s, you add the number you are taking it times to the answer for 7s.

It was an easy way to cheat on the multiplication tables, if you were stronger at addition and subtraction.

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answers from Jacksonville on


My daughter had a teacher who played a CD with songs of the tables. They would sing it as they worked on other things. Look for something like that.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Flash cards are probably one of the worst ways to do it, as they generally aren't helpful for many things. There are always better, more interactive and fun ways to learn than flashcards.

Make an actual table, with 1 - 10 (or 12) across the top and down the side. Fill in the answers. She can just look. Or, you could make each answer a little "door" that she had to open to reveal the answer underneath. It's easier to see it all laid out together than to have flashcards one at a time, with no relation to anything else.

Both tricks mentioned below for the 9s are great. I usually use the "one up, one down" idea that a couple of posters mentioned. Line them up vertically to really see it:

The Yankee Doodle song for 5's is great too - I'd never heard that. My mom has a CD in her car with a song on that my son has been singing all week. It just says "5 x 5 is 25, 5 x 6 is 30" and so on, up until he hits 5 x 20 = 100. The way he sings it, the tone goes back and forth depending on if your answer ends in 5 or 0.

Counting by 2s and 5s should be easy, so they can start just counting to figure those out.

Also, look into getting some math games that use their skills in a fun way. We have a game called Number Rings that is awesome. You can add, subtract, multiply and/or divide with it, all while playing a competitive game so it doesn't feel like work.

Yahtzee can help too, with the number 1 - 6 and multiplying by up to 5. Roll all five dice and try to get as many of one number as you can, then multiply the value by the number (ex: if you roll three 4's, 3 x 4 = 12, you get 12 points).

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answers from Norfolk on

Just practice, practice, practice, review, then practice some more.

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answers from Washington DC on

I had a large piece of poster board hanging on my closet with all the times tables from 0-12 on it. Rote memorization was the only way I learned them. I dislike math ...

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answers from St. Louis on

Well, I think that games/tricks the others have said are great.

Good for you in getting started early. I had one daughter who caught on right away and another that it took quite some time, but they both learned them eventually!

Besides that, we had flashcards at home ( which were boring , but can work ) A better one we used, was a "wheel" type of flashcard thingy ( sorry for the bad description :) ) for each number...they were colorful and had animals on them and those seemed to be more fun to learn on!

I really think memorization is the bottom line in learning them, but the tricks can really help and make it more fun for your child! Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, I was a Special Ed Aide Kinder for many years. I often tutored kids in math. Times tables are a definite need, it makes every other math easier to master. Flash cards are great, I used them all the time. Start with easy sets first. 1's, 2's 5's 10's. Do them slowly and UNTIL they are mastered. Mastering the easy ones will build confidence and show her "I CAN do this!" Use counters to help if needed. Some kids are visual learners and need to be able to "see" the amount to understand how multiplication works.

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answers from Appleton on

My son and I are both dyslexic in math. So I had to explain it with simplicity. Multiplication is fast adding for instance 5+5 =10 --- 10+5 = 15 or 5+5+5 = 15 or 3 x 5 + 15. Once he saw that concept he got it.

Sometimes you need to break it down into simple basics.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I taught my son this, but he didn't prefer it.

Our friend still uses this trick at 33.

Everyone learns and remembers differently.


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