Learning those first times tables doesn’t need to be done purely by rote learning any more. Have fun with times tables by playing interactive games like this cupcake activity. Get kids involved in what makes up each times table and show them, right there in front of them, what a certain times table actually means. What does 3 x 3 mean? It’s 3 sets of 3. Here you can see 3 sets of 3 pieces.
Showing them visually and letting them experiment with it, can be a great way to help them grasp the sometimes tricky concepts of times tables.
How do I teach my child times tables?
It can be difficult to know where to start with times tables. We recommend starting with the easier ones which are generally considered to be the 2, 5 and 10 times tables. After that you can move onto the 3 and 4 times tables. This craft shows you how to play a cupcake game with the 3 times table but you can play the same game with any number.
Before you begin doing times tables it can help to practice counting in 2s (or 5s or 10s) with your child out loud. Perhaps you can practice saying all the even numbers together. Or perhaps you can practice counting up to 100 in 10s by saying 10, 20, 30, 40 etc.
Without knowing it, this simple counting sequence is helping your child to understand that particular times table. If they can count: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, then it will be easier to understand the initial idea that 1 x 2 = 2 and 2 x 2 = 4 etc.
In order to help them understand the concept of what these equations mean, show them. Count the numbers out in sets and write out the times table like we have done with this cupcake game. If you’re not a fan of cupcakes we have created a similar activity with our Pizza 2 x table learning game.
Time: 10 minutes
Ages: Big kids
Difficulty: Easy peasy
Skill: Learning times tables
You will need:
- Card – white, yellow and coloured
- Sweeties or small buttons
Making the game
Step 1: Cut out some cupcakes
Draw a cupcake shape on a piece of card. Cut it out to make your template.
Place it on a large sheet of card and draw round it to make ten cupcake shapes. Cut them out.
Step 2: Add some frosting
Cut the top swirly bit from your cupcake template.
Again, place this on your coloured card (white, pink or even blue) and draw around it. Cut out ten frosting shapes. Glue it onto the cupcake base.
We used pink, blue and white card to make the game more colourful.
How to play
Step 1: Add sprinkles to the cupcake
Lay your cupcakes out in front of you.
Decide which times table you want to focus on. We have chosen the three times table.
Ask your child to take three sweeties and place them on one of the cupcakes.
Step 2: Explain the sum
Explain that your child has 1 cake with 3 sweeties. So they have made 1 set of 3.
Now write down the sum 1 x 3 = and place it under the cupcake. Ask your child to count the sweeties to find the answer. It’s easy 1 x 3 = 3.
Recite the sum to your child ‘One times three is three’ and ‘One three is three’. Ask them to repeat the sum back to you a few times and to look at the cupcake to understand the concept.
Step 3: Now try the next sum
Take 2 cupcakes and again ask your child to put 3 sweeties on each.
Now write the sum 2 x 3 = on a piece of card and ask them to find out the answer by counting the total number of sweeties on both cupcakes.
Again talk through how they have put out 2 sets of 3 two threes and that makes 6.
If it makes it easier you could even write a number ‘1’ on one cupcake and a number ‘2’ on the other so that they can remember that there are 2 cupcakes so 2 sets of 3.
Step 4: Continue through the times table
Continue playing through the whole times table.
So ask your child to take three cupcakes and place three sweeties on each to find the answer to 3 x 3 = and so on.
Here you can see the game in play for 5 x 3= . They count out the number of cupcakes (5) and then the number of sweets on each cupcake (3) and then the total number of sweets of all the cupcakes (15) so 5 x 3 = 15.
Extension activity – first division
When your child is getting the hang of a particular times table, you can use this game to extend their learning.
Instead of teaching multiplication, you can use the game to teach division. So, for example, take 3 cupcakes and then put six sweeties on the table. Ask your child to share out the sweeties equally between the 3 cupcakes. How many are on each?
Here’s the game in play for division sums
The child has shared out the 6 sweeties and found out that each cupcake gets 2 sweets.
Talk them through the sum. 6 divided by 3 is 2.