In 2020, a new Year 4 Times Tables/Multiplication check will be introduced in the summer term. This will formally assess whether children know their times tables up to 12 x 12. The children's knowledge of multiplication facts will be assessed, but that'll be it. There won't be any problem-solving involved.
Why is it so important, though, that children ages 8 and 9 know their times tables so well?
The National Curriculum
The National Curriculum (the document that all state schools in England must follow) states that children should...
- Be able to recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 2, 5 and 10 times tables, including recognising odd and even numbers in Year 2
- Be able to recall and use multiplication and division facts for the 3, 4 and 8 times tables in Year 3
- Be able to recall multiplication and division facts for multiplication tables up to 12 x 12 in Year 4
In Real Life
- Knowing your Times Tables saves so much time - imagine if every time you had to work out 10 x 10, you had to count up to ten groups with ten counters in... every time!
- Knowing your times tables can free up space in our brains so we can tackle more difficult, less straightforward calculations
- Multiplication forms the building blocks for lots of other maths concepts - fractions, algebra, and area all require a good working knowledge of multiplication
- Once you know multiplication, division should come pretty easily - 20 divided by 5 is the same as asking how many 5s go into 20
- Real life needs the times tables too - what happens if you have a recipe for 4 people, but you need to cater for 12?
Remember, hitting those milestones as set out in the National Curriculum is only a guide, but they are important steps for being number confident young adults.
So, tell me more about this check...
The Department for Education (DofE) has said that they check is no more than a tool to identify children who may need a little extra support, so there will be no 'pass' or 'fail' result from the check.
The check will only be taken by children in Year 4, and the whole thing is online. It'll take no more than 5 minutes (children will be expected to answer the questions against the clock) and answers will be marked instantly.
The check itself should be pretty harmless, but if you're child is going to be in Year 4 in 2020, you might want to think about helping them be as confident as they can by then. Here are some of our favourite ways to become confident times tables mathematicians.
The Array Model
An array is created by arranging a set of objects into rows and columns. Each row must have the same number as the other rows, and each column must have the same number as all the other columns. It provides a mental image of what the multiplication can look like.
Bead Strings are useful visual tools. You can make a bead string for the ties tables you are working on at the time by threading two different coloured beads in 2s, 3s, 4s, or whatever number you are working on.
The below example shows the 3 times tables.
Bar modelling is a really popular way of giving a visual representation of what happens to numbers when they're being multiplied and divided. The below bar model shows us that three 4s go into 12, and that 12 is made up of three 4s.
This bar model (below) shows us that five 5s make 25, and 25 is made up of five 5s.
Make your own bar models and leave blank spaces - what number is made up by these six 8s?
The Multiplication Grid
Once children understand some of the easier times tables, there aren't a whole lot of 'hard' ones to learn. We've marked this number grid below with the easy facts to learn (the yellow ones) and the slightly harder ones to learn (the while ones).
A number grid is a great way of tackling some of the harder numbers by looking for patterns. Try making your own number grids and erasing some of the numbers - how quickly can you fill in the blank gaps? Or create an L shape from a piece of paper or card, and use it to quickly find the answers to a sum when you're struggling to remember it off hand or work it out quickly.
You can also break down larger grids into individual times tables grids so that patterns are easier to spot.
Cracking Concepts kits contain 20 whiteboard games each that focus on a particular area of the National Curriculum and the objectives of it. There are two kits that directly relate to the times tables:
The KS1 (Key Stage 1 - that's years 1 and 2) Cracking Table Facts kit contains 20 x A4 whiteboard games, 7 x Propeller Spinners, 12 x dice and 500 x double-sided counters, as well as a handy storage tray, so you have everything you need to play every game.
The LKS2 (Lower Key Stage 2 - that's years 3 and 4) Cracking Table Facts kit contains 20 x A4 whiteboard games, 21 x dive, 375 x double-sided counters, 12 x pens, 6 x erasers and 3 sets of numbered cards, as well as a storage tray.