Learning the 9 times table

The 9 times table is one of my favourite times tables because there are so many tricks to help you to learn it.

The most commonly known one is that, when written down the units decrease by one each time and the tens increase by one.

When you write out the 9x table the tens will increase by 1 and the units will decrease by 1 each time.png
But there is also the fact that if a number is devisable by 9 the digits that make it up will add together to make 9.

3x9 = 272+7 = 9 shocking fact

Examples of this are:

10 x 9= 90
9+0 =9

2×9= 18
1+8 = 9

12×9 = 108
1+0+8= 9

Then there’s this one and I think this is the cleverest trick of all:


Hold your 2 hands out in front of you, palms down.

Imagine you want to work out what 3 times 9 is.

Put down the middle finger of your right hand.
Imagine all the fingers of the left of that middle finger are worth 10. All the fingers to the right are worth 1 (they’re your units).

That means to the left of my middle finger I have 20. To the right I have 7.
3 x9 = 27
It works for each of the questions in the 9 times table from 1 to 10.


Imagine I want to work out what 7×9 is.

Put the finger next to the thumb on your right hand down. (This is your 7th finger)
Everything to the left is once again worth 10. Everything to the right is worth 1 (a unit).

This time I have 6 tens and 3 units.

I can check this is right because 6+3 =9

I’ve found one of the best ways to teach the times tables is through the use of games. At Starr Tutoring we use pairs games, snakes and ladders, fishing games (probably my favourite) bingo etc.

The repetition of playing the games helps to reinforce the times tables facts.

Games are also a great way to make learning fun and to help a child relax. Everyone will learn better when they relax and are enjoying themselves as that is when the brain is more susceptible to learning.

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I have set myself the challenge that in my life time I will help 1 million children find confidence in their times tables through the use of games.

To help me to achieve this you can download all the templates that we use at Starr Tutoring to create these games so that you can play them yourself at home.
You will also gain the link to my e-book: Teach your child their times tables – the fun way!

This e-book goes into more detail explaining how we learn and the importance of using a wide range of resources.


I can have kept the price down to just £12. Not because I question the value you will receive from it, because I think you will receive great value from it if you play the games with your child, but so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.
If £12 is too much for you though, or you have a child with special needs, your child is a young carer, a foster child, etc. let me know. For every course that is paid for another person will receive it for FREE.

For more information on the 1 Million Times Tables Challenge, click here

If you have found this post interesting or you think someone else may benefit from it, please do like and share it.

Any questions, do ask and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading


A simple times tables confidence boosting game

How to play noughts and crosses and teach your child their times tables at the same time

A game that takes two seconds to prepare, just requires a piece of paper and a pen and can help your child boost their times tables knowledge.

Sounds perfect!

That’s why I love noughts and crosses (tick tack toe) so much.

To create the game draw two horizontal lines approximately the same length.
Next draw to vertical lines, approximately the same length crossing the first two lines.

In each gap created write a number from 1 to 12.


That’s the game pretty much ready to play.

noughts and crosses

All you need to do now is decide which times table you are going to be focusing on. Who is going to be noughts and who is going to be crosses.

Like in the traditional version of the game the aim is to get 3 in a row: diagonally, vertically or horizontally.

noughts and crosses completed game
However, in this version of the game, before claiming your square you need to multiply the number in it by your chosen times table.

For example, if we are practising the 6x table and I want to take the top left square I would have to calculate what 6×7 is. The answer being 42.
Having stated the answer correctly, you can claim the square and the next person has a go.
This is the sort of game you can play anywhere at any time: waiting for the dinner to cook, on the back of a napkin in a café, stuck in a (stationary) traffic jam…

Have a go and let me know what you think.



I have recently compiled the 1 Million Times Tables Challenge. My goal is to support 1 million children gain confidence with their times tables.

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To find out more about it click here
The course is advertised at just £12. Not because I question its value but because I want to make it as accessible to as many people as possible.
If you believe that the £12 is still too much for you, let me know because for every one course that is sold, I will be giving another one away for free to a family on a low income, with a special needs child, a child in care or a young carer. If this is you and your interested, email me and let me know.
Speak soon

The 1 million times tables challenge

Adding and subtracting: Positive and negative numbers

Adding and subtracting: Positive and negative numbers made simple

I’ve found using the weather is the easiest way to explain positive and negative numbers.

When the weather has been hot like it has in the last few days the number is in the positives, for example 27 degrees.


If today the temperature was set to get hotter (by 5 degrees) it would be the equivalent of adding a positive:



If the weather was set to cool down by 5 degrees it would be the equivalent of subtracting 5:

27-5 =22


This is fairly straight forward. The problems seem to start when we delve into the negative numbers.

If the weather was -27 degrees instead of plus 27 the following rules would apply:


Today the weather is -27 degrees but it is set to get 5 degrees warmer. The sum would be:

-27 + 5

This means because we are adding to a negative the number is getting close to zero.

By doing this it appears the number is actually getting smaller rather than bigger

-27+5 = -22

But if you understand that when the weather has been bitterly cold, by adding a few degrees of warmth isn’t enough to regard it as warm it sort of makes a bit more sense… I hope.

Another way of thinking about it is in terms of lending someone some money.

Imagine I lent someone £27. They then gave me £5 back.

They still owe my £22. Although the debt has reduced in size the amount owed is still in the negatives.

If I had lent someone (or borrowed) £27 but then borrowed an additional £5 the debt would be getting bigger, moving what I owed away from zero:

-£27-£5 = -£32


The one thing to remember though that if you have 2 negatives together they counteract each other and become a positive:

27 – -5 becomes 27+5 taking our answer to 32


I always think of a negative telling you to change direction.

Using a picture of a thermometer or a number line is something I always find helpful in working out positive and negative numbers as it makes the process of recognising the effect the actions have on the numbers.



5 ways to help your child learn whilst playing noughts and crosses


Who would have thought that with some very small amendments noughts and crosses could be made into an educational (but still fun!) game?


Do you find helping your child to revise or learn new things can be hard work? You want to make it fun for them but you’re not too sure how?

I want to show you how you can support your child with learning:

  1. their times tables,
  2. forming letters or numbers correctly
  3. extending their vocabulary,
  4. learning definitions,
  5. spellings,
  6. translating

through this one simple game.


The basic principle of how you play this game will remain the same throughout.

Draw yourself a grid consisting of 2 horizontal lines which are crossed by 2 vertical lines:



The game is meant for 2 players.

One of you will be a nought; the other player will be a cross.

Take it in turns to draw your nought or cross in the square with the intention of being the first to get a line of 3 either: diagonally, vertically or horizontally.

The first person to achieve this wins.



In this version of the game you need to decide which times table you are multiplying by before you start.

You now play the game as you would in the traditional method, however, before you can claim your square you need to multiply the number in it by your chosen times table.

For example supposing we have chosen to multiply by 8.

Use noughts and crosses to test your child's knowledge


If I wanted to go in the top left hand space and there was a number 11 written in it, I would have to work out the answer to 11 x 8 before I can write my cross in the gap.

Although I’ve suggested using times tables here, you could insert any sum into the square to be solved, I’ve put anything from making simple number bonds to 10, 20 or 100 to placing a simultaneous equation that needs solving in the square. Alternatively you could put in fractions that need converting to decimals or percentages or angles that need to be measured.

Adapt the game so that it is at a suitable level for your child or the child that you are working with.

Never make it too hard, a challenge is good but if it is too much of a challenge the child will lose heart and no longer want to participate.



Traditionally the purpose of the game has always been to use noughts and crosses to complete the square and achieve the line of three however this would be a good opportunity for children to practice writing digits that they struggle with. Many children get their b’s and d’s the wrong way round p’s and q’s are other letters that children find tricky to grasp or 5’s and S’s. Though these are the most common there are no doubt others letters which cause children issues.

So when you play the game, instead of using a nought or cross why not use these letters which are causing difficulties instead?

Be subtle about it. I might start with an “S” because that’s the first letter in our dog’s name “and perhaps you could start with a d because that’s the first letter of dog”.

Then in the next game I could perhaps do a “d” because we have a dog and you did d last time and “you could do “b” because your favourite colour is blue…


This will provide the necessary repetition needed to learn but in a less monotonous and more discrete way than endless worksheets and writing line after line of the letter.

rite animal is a bear”.

Before you start put a letter in each square of the grid (like you did for the times tables version but this time use letters instead).

Now pick a theme. It can be anything ranging from countries, food, animals or something that your child is learning about at school such as the personality traits of a character in a book they are reading as a class.

This time before you claim your square you need to think of a relevant word starting with that specific letter; for example if our theme was countries and the letters to choose from included an E, I would probably choose England as my country.

I could now put my nought or cross in the square containing an “E”.

If your child needs to think more creatively with their descriptive language, you could find a picture of something/someone and before claiming your square you would need to think of a work to describe the picture. You could put letters in there as a starting letter if you wished to make it more complicated or you could be allowed to place your word in any square.



Is there a short list of facts your child needs to learn:

  • Names of shapes
  • Dates in history
  • Scientific terms
  • Terminology used in a specific subject


Place one of the terms in each square.

This time before you are allowed to claim your square you have to give a definition to the meaning of the word located in that particular place.

As always the first person to get a line of 3 wins.

If your child brings home spellings each week to learn this can be an additional method for learning them.

This version of the game will be more appropriate as the child starts to become familiar with the words in the list.

For this version of the game a word from the spelling list needs to be written in the square before it can be claimed, if the child is struggling offer guidance but try not to do it for them.

Alternatively, if you child is still learning their phonics blends you could put one in each square and ask the child to think of a word containing that letter or blend.




This game could be done in two ways:

  1. You could write a word in each square which needs to be translated into the appropriate language before the square can be claimed
  2. You could have a picture in the square. You would need to name what this item is (in the appropriate language) before been able to claim the square.


I hope from here you can see how one simple game can be so easily adapted to help with so many areas of learning.

I am a firm believer that if you are enjoying yourself you are inevitably more relaxed. If you are relaxed you are more susceptible to taking in new information.

The point of noughts and crosses is that it’s a game and games are supposed to be fun. Please remember this as it will help the child’s confidence and enthusiasm to participate.

In this respect I think we’re all the same: if we’re enjoying ourselves we will show more enthusiasm and a greater willingness to get involved and learn.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog, if you did please share it with your friends. I’d love to hear your comments below. Thank you for your support and for helping me spread the idea that learning should be an enjoyable experience for our children. As you write your letters down, say it out loud to reinforce the letter your writing.