Use Lego, pencils or buttons to learn maths concepts (KS2/KS3)

Number Bonds

Teach number bonds to ten using basic square Lego pieces of two colours (Say yellow and red). With your child, build columns of ten pieces of Lego, showing all the combinations of two numbers adding up to ten. So you will end up with a column of ten yellow; nine yellow and one red; eight yellow and two red, seven yellow and three red; six yellow and four red, five of each; four yellow and six red; three yellow and seven red; two yellow and eight red; one yellow and nine red; and ten red.

Building the Lego columns provides time and physical, tactile activity to help the concept sink in and be trusted.

Multiplication Facts

Get a tin to store a collection of pencils, crayons, buttons or counters in. Use these to help your child understand simple multiplication language and concepts in a fun and tangible way. When you demonstrate concepts using objects, the child can see with their own eyes that they are true. In addition, using Coloured pencils or pretty buttons, even counters in the shape of cars or dinosaurs, whatever is of interest at the time, will be more memorable.

Demonstrate multiplication facts using actual counters

You can practise language such as “groups of”, “lots of” and “times”. You can demonstrate that 3 x 8 really is the same as 8 x 3 (which really helps if you know your 3 times table but not your 8 times table) by asking them to put out three groups of eight, and then eight groups of three, and counting the total (or noticing that the same number of counters has been used.) Even teenagers are happy to use pencils to fully understand this concept.

Similarly you provide give 12 counters and ask your child to split or share them into four equal groups, noticing how many are in each group and then do the same for three groups. This is a good way to demonstrate concepts that they can later trust: if 3 x 4 = 12 and 4 x 3 = 12, then 12 divide by 4 is 3 and 12 divide by three is 4. This can be replicated for much bigger numbers without the counters. You can start to use fraction terminology in these practical sessions too.

Consolidating times tables knowledge

Automatic times table recall really helps children when doing lots of different kinds of maths problems at school but it is often difficult for dyslexic children (or those with other SpLDs) to learn times tables . There are some fun ways to address speed of recall of the types of times tables facts you could have initially practised trusting with buttons as above. Here are a few:

1) Reciting to a tune. There are various commercial versions of times tables songs available.

2) Getting quicker and quicker at filling in a 10 x 10 times table square. Initially, you can work with your child to fill in the easy bits as hey learn them: the first horizontal and 1st vertical will be x1, so you I just copy the number in the margin/ at the top of the table. The last row and last column is x10, which is add a “0”. The 2nd row and 2nd column will be 2 x tables, so you I can work on that easily usually. X3 may come next with painstaking practise, but eventually, the order will become automatic. X 4 you can teach them is the same as x2 and x2 again – double then double. x5 is often easy – answers end in “0” or “5”. There are clever games to work out x 9, including that the first digit always goes up by one and the 2nd digit always goes down by one (9, 18, 27, 36…) That leaves 6, 7 and 8 which are the tricky ones. But you will see on the square that the inverse relationships are already in place: 2×6 =6×2, 3×7=7×3 etc). So he only tricky ones left to learn are 6×6, 6×7, 7×7, 7×8 and 8×8. There are rhymes that can be learned for these (e.g. I ate and ate until I was sick on the floor, which reminds you of 8×8 is 64)

Once you have worked out how to work them out, you practice regularly and get quicker and quicker until you can recall them more fluently when doing maths problems.

3) Alternatively, you can play dice games with your child to help them become more automatic in their recall of times tables facts. If you play a big version of Snakes and Ladders using 2 dice, you can incorporate a step where the child tries to multiply the two dice numbers showing before adding them to take their go. (Or even using the multiplied answers as their go! The game will finish much quicker!) You can buy foam dice and put your own numbers on so you can practice 7, 8 and 9 times tables this way.

4) Card games: you can make simple card games, just as you do with word cards. Make cards with times tables facts on one side and the answer on the other to use each go in a board game. Make cards with the question on one card and the answer on the other to play pairs with (wither cards upturned or face down). Or make cards with just the question on and make simple bingo boards with the answers on. Of course some of the answers are the same for different questions, so the game could get competitive and funny!

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