Here’s a fantastic activity to help pupils improve their times tables. It can also be used when looking at factors and prime numbers.

Give a pair of pupils a large 100 square like above. Each player has their own coloured counters. They then take it in turns to identify a square that they want to place a counter on and say a times table multiplication that makes that number. For example, if player 1 wants to put one of their counters on the number 20 they could say “4 times 5 equals 20″. The other player checks the answer and if it is right player 1 would put one of their counters on square 20. If it is wrong they are not allowed to put down their counter. Then it is player 2′s turn.

The game continues until one player gets 4 counters adjacent to each other in a line. This can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal. That player is the winner.

I would advise that you insist on the rule that they are not allowed to use 1 X something as it results in them saying it for every number, 77 is 1 X 77 etc… That then means that the primes are ‘dead squares’ and so pupils who learn the primes will know not to start a line next to one if possible.

If your pupils have access to a computer they can use this excellent interactive tool to mark the 100 square with virtual splats rather than counters.

The more of their times tables pupils know, the better chance they’ll stand at stopping their opponent winning! Great fun, engaging and a real incentive for learning. Popular with the kids and thoroughly recommended.