More on Times Tables

In my last post, Motivated to Learn the Times Tables, I didn’t tell you why Gemma-Rose wants to learn all the different multiplication combinations. Why is she motivated? Has she some wonderful world changing problem she wants to solve? No. She wants to advance through another level of the maths game she is playing! Those aliens are bombarding her with problems and she can’t think of the answer fast enough: Sorry, game over! And for some reason she wants to continue the game. 
The important point, I guess, is that Gemma-Rose wants to learn the times tables, not why.
So I have been thinking about times tables, and today I remembered a book I bought a few years ago called Teach Your Children Tables by Bill Handley.
Here’s the Amazon book description:
Bill Handley is well known for making maths fun! The first edition of Teach Your Children Tables challenged over 20000 readers — and Bill has been inundated with letters of thanks since from parents whose children have quickly become proficient in maths and problem solving. This not only pleases their teachers but does wonders for a child’s self-esteem. In this new, fully revised edition, rewritten for clearer understanding, Bill expands the sections on explaining multiplication to young children, on problem solving, and the correlation between the multiplication method and subtraction.

The blurb on the back of my copy of the book sounds even more interesting. Here’s an excerpt:
Using the methods taught in this book, your children will be able to master the multiplication tables in less than half an hour and solve problems like 96×97 faster than you can tap the numbers into a calculator. This innovative approach will have them playing with numbers and learning basic principles of mathematics while performing lightning-quick calculations. They will learn to understand what they are doing rather than just follow a set of rules…

Now the words that jump off the screen for me are ‘fun’ and ‘playing’. Children learn so much when they are playing. I like the idea of them learning basic maths principles while playing with numbers.
I have had a quick look through the book and I am wondering if Gemma-Rose would find it fun to play with some numbers, the Bill Handley way. Mastering the multiplication tables in less than half an hour? That claim motivates me to sit down with the book and find out more. Will Gemma-Rose want to join me? I shall wave the book under her nose and see if she is interested.
And I will report back later!
Bill Handley has written a number of books which are all available as Amazon Kindle books. Paperback copies can be bought from Fishpond.
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  1. Reply

    Ooh, I can't wait to see if this works! This book will jump to the top of my pile of must-buys if it does! At the moment, Bethany and Melanie are doing well with cuisinere rods. It's old-fashioned and simple but it seems to work. We have so many of them that everyone can join in with a building game – until Jordy knocks them over, that is. Yes, you're right – Maths can be heaps of fun!

    God bless, Sue:-)

  2. Reply


    I was wondering why I bought the book and never used it with the older kids. I think it was because this is a whole new way of looking at maths and at the time, I couldn't cope with anything new. It was easier to stick to what was familiar. Sad in a way, not being open to a possibly better way.

    Apparently there is a new and improved edition of this book. I only have an old copy.

    I had a quick look and I am proud to say I can now work out the answer to 96×97 in my head! We'll see
    how Gemma-Rose gets on when I show her the book tomorrow.

    God bless.

  3. Reply

    I'm thinking about this, Sue, and wondering if there's a quicker way than these steps:

    96 x 100 = 9600
    9600-300=9300 (because 300=(100-97)x100)
    9300+12=9312 (because 12=(100-97)x(100-96))

    Something tells me there's a simpler way!

    1. Reply


      I think you got it! It looks a bit different set out in the book, but I think the steps are the same.
      Here's how I did it:

      96 X 97
      4 3 (100-96) (100-97)

      (97-4) x100 = 9300 or (96-3) x 100 = 300


      9300+12= 9312

      I am fine with the steps, I just need to understand the principles better. I think you understand what we did, better than me!

      The book starts with the simple times tables, and yes, they can be learnt in less than 1/2 hour. They are easy to work out. Then the book goes onto more complicated multiplications such as 97×96. These are easy too. Gemma-Rose, Sophie and I worked through these quickly.

      Tomorrow we are going to look at more complicated problems.

      Sophie's eyes lit up when she succeeded in multiplying a few sums in her head. She announced it was fun and then she ran off to ask the older girls if they could do such things in their heads. She was so delighted to find out they can't. Now she is feeling very clever and can't wait to do more tomorrow.

      I'm just wondering if the updated edition of the book has better explanations of the principles behind this simple method.

    2. Reply

      I'm so pleased! There wasn't a different way, after all! I think your steps were just in a different order.

      Well, I just bought the ebook from Amazon and it's on my iPad, now. Thanks, Sue – this looks great!

      I'll let you know how we get on.

    3. Reply


      We shall have to compare progress! As you will find out, Bill Handley encourages parents to learn alongside a child. We shall soon be amazing the world with our mental multiplication skills!

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