Learn the 4 times table with tips from a- school teacher including foundational skills, practical strategies, and engaging tricks for easy mastery.
Author
Michelle Griczika
Published
March 2024
Learn the 4 times table with tips from a school teacher including foundational skills, practical strategies, and engaging tricks for easy mastery.
Author
Michelle Griczika
Published
March 2024
Learn the 4 times table with tips from a school teacher including foundational skills, practical strategies, and engaging tricks for easy mastery.
Author
Michelle Griczika
Published
March 2024
Key takeaways
Table of contents
As students begin learning about multiplication, the next step is typically for children to be presented with the multiplication facts grouped together as sets for them to memorise.
While these sets are seemingly random, the multiplication facts are usually organised by one of the factors. In other words, students might learn all multiplication facts for 10, then 5, and so on.
The order of what is easiest for students to memorise can vary based on how well they have learned other maths skills, such as skip counting and repeated addition. Still, some groups of facts are usually easier to understand than others and should be introduced earlier.
For example, the 10s multiplication facts are a practical introduction to multiplication. Early in primary school, students learn how to count by 10s and can then apply that understanding to multiplication. Once they recognise that multiplication is the same as repeated addition, they can understand that 2 “groups” 10, or counting by 10 two times, is the same as 2 x 10 = 20.
Similarly, learning the 2s and 5s times tables is more straightforward than learning other times tables because they have predictable patterns and relatively easy skip counting.
The 4s times table is around the middle of the spectrum of difficulty for learning multiplication facts. It is easier than the higher numbers 7, 8, and 9. Still, it does not have predictable tricks and patterns like the previously mentioned numbers, such as 5 or 10. The 2s multiplication facts are beneficial for understanding the 4 times table thanks to the concept of doubling (but more on that later).
Therefore, I introduce students to the 4s times table after they have acquired a solid understanding of the concept of multiplication recognising that multiplication means “groups of” or repeated addition and mastered some of the easier times table.
First things, first. Take a look at the 4 times table up to 10:
1 x 4 = 4 | 4 x 1 = 4 |
2 x 4 = 8 | 4 x 2 = 8 |
3 x 4 = 12 | 4 x 3 = 12 |
4 x 4 = 16 | 4 x 4 = 16 |
5 x 4 = 20 | 4 x 5 = 20 |
6 x 4 = 24 | 4 x 6 = 24 |
7 x 4 = 28 | 4 x 7 = 28 |
8 x 4 = 32 | 4 x 8 = 32 |
9 x 4 = 36 | 4 x 9 = 36 |
10 x 4 = 40 | 4 x 10 = 40 |
The facts in the 4 times table chart do not have patterns as obvious as other facts, such as the 10s facts always ending in 0 but there are still a number of tips and tricks for helping your child learn their 4 times tables!
As previously mentioned, a concrete understanding of multiplication gives students an effective way to calculate the product of any multiplication problem if they cannot remember an answer.
This is important as students learn more difficult multiplication facts, such as the 4 times table. Having a fallback strategy when encountering a tricky problem can help students reduce frustration or anxiety around maths, which is always a great thing! Here are my top tips for teaching the four times table.
Being able to utilise skip counting or repeated addition is essential as students begin learning more complex sets of multiplication facts. If a student tries to remember 4 x 6 but cannot quickly recall the answer, they can think of the problem as 4 groups of 6 or 6 groups of 4. By adding 6 four times (6 + 6 + 6 + 6) or 4 six times, the child can easily find the product of 24 instead of relying on memory alone.
Since the 4s times tables might be the first set your students learn that could be more challenging than previously learned sets, a tip that can make it less overwhelming is to ensure students understand the Commutative Property of Multiplication. This property is that changing the order of the numbers being multiplied (the factors) does not change the answer (the product).
Once students learn 4 x 7, they also learn 7 x 4. Remembering this simple rule reduces the number of problems in the 4 times table chart from 20 to 10, which immediately makes it less overwhelming!
For example, if your child has mastered the 2s, 5s, and 10s times tables, then you can identify 2 x 4, 4 x 2, 5 x 4, 4 x 5, 10 x 4, and 4 x 10 as facts your child already knows.
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As students continue learning the times tables for 4, a few “tricks” or patterns might help. The first 4 times table trick is helpful for students who can easily double numbers and who have already learned the 2s times table. The 2s facts are relatively easy for students to double, and they can utilise this to find products in the 4s times tables.
Since 4 is the same as 2 doubled, students can use this relationship to solve the facts for the 4 times table. However, a vital point of this strategy is that students must also understand that only one factor should be doubled. Doubling one factor doubles the answer, but doubling both factors will quadruple it.
For example, when trying to solve 4 x 6, students can consider the fact that 2 x 6 = 12. Since factor 6 is in both equations, you can double the other factor, 2, to get 4 and double the product of 12 to get the correct answer of 4 x 6 = 24.
Another example is students can think of 9 x 2 = 18 when solving 9 x 4. Since you can double 2 to get 4 and there is a 9 as the other factor in both equations, double the first answer of 18 to get the product for 9 x 4 = 36.
The next trick for the 4 times table is a pattern within the products. These can be harder for students to visualise but can help them see if their answer is correct based on the rules and patterns described below.
Every fifth multiple of 4 ends in the same digit. For example, the 2nd multiple of 4 is 8. Five multiples later, which would be 7 x 4, the answer is 28. The products 8 and 28 both have an 8 as their last digit.
Here is a table that visualises this 4 times table trick.
Multiple of 4 | Products |
1st and 6th — 1 x 4 and 6 x 4 | 4 and 24 |
2nd and 7th — 2 x 4 and 7 x 4 | 8 and 28 |
3rd and 8th — 3 x 4 and 8 x 4 | 12 and 32 |
4th and 9th — 4 x 4 and 9 x 4 | 16 and 36 |
5th and 10th — 5 x 4 and 10 x 4 | 20 and 40 |
Even though we want our students to use strategies like skip counting, doubling and identifying patterns to master their 4 times tables, I want to acknowledge sometimes these strategies are too time-consuming when solving problems on standardised tests. So although rote memorisation shouldn’t be your first strategy for teaching the 4 times table, it’s important students do eventually memorise their facts.
One fun way I help my pupils memorise their 4 times tables is with skip counting songs. I’ve seen firsthand how effective songs are when teaching multiplication because they are easy to remember thanks to their catchy tune. I allowed time every day to sing various skip counting songs!
Good ole’ flash cards are also an effective method for memorising multiplication facts, so I would also utilise them for the 4s times tables to aid in memorisation.
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3 x 4 =
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The 4 times table can be challenging initially, but these tips can make it more manageable and fun for your child. Using a combination of the various strategies like engaging your child’s prior learning, using number sense strategies like doubling, and skip counting songs and flash cards, your child can learn the 4 times tables.
Lesson credits
Michelle Griczika
Michelle Griczika is a seasoned educator and experienced freelance writer. Her years teaching primary school lend depth to her understanding of diverse learning stages. Michelle enjoys running in her free time and undertaking home projects.
Michelle Griczika
Michelle Griczika is a seasoned educator and experienced freelance writer. Her years teaching primary school lend depth to her understanding of diverse learning stages. Michelle enjoys running in her free time and undertaking home projects.
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