Tips for learning the 12 times tables - from a rock climber

Tips for learning the 12 times tables - from a rock climber

The 12 times tables strike fear in children at first - but there's no need. In this article, we take a look at how to learn them in bite sized chunks.


First of all put yourself into the shoes of a child who is new to the 12x tables. It's daunting - like looking up a rock face you have to climb.You might already know that 12 x 12 is 144 but wow, this is a huge number and there's a long way to climb to get there.

The good news is your child has been learning tables for a while now, they're getting the hang of it -  and this is probably the last one to climb!


 The Easy Part

Climbers look for easy ways up a rock face - perhaps a safe ledge to rest on or some great hand and footholds. The 12 times tables has two great safe ledges to climb onto and they're pretty easy to use - let's take a look:

  • 1 x 12 = 12
  • 2 x 12 = 24
  • 3 x 12 = 36
  • 4 x 12 = 48
  • 5 x 12 = 60   this is a safe ledge to jump onto

There are a few ways to look at these multiplications:

  • Adding 12 each time is a common method:  12+12= 24,  24 + 12 = 36,  36+12 = 48
  • Also notice the pattern in the ones columns:  12    24    36    48    60    72    84   96  108   120    the 0,2,4,6,8,0 pattern repeats through all the 12x tables.
  • You can use the half and double method:   So  3 x 12   becomes  6 x 6 = 36
  • Or use partition - faced with 4 x 12 =  split it into 4 x 10  add   4 x 2  so 40+8 =  48

The Walk to the Summit


The last three 12 times tables are also relatively easy to remember once you're at the 120 ledge:

  • From 10 x 12 = 120 we can add 12 to get 11 x 12 = 132  and another 12 takes us 12 x 12 = 144
  • We can also "climb down" from 10 x 12= 120 to  9 x 12 = 108


The Scary Bit

Between our two safe ledges at 5 x 12=60 and 10 x 12=120 is the scary part:

  • 10 x 12 = 120   a safe ledge to jump onto
  • 9 x 12 = 108   you can climb down -12 from 120 to get here
  • 8 x 12 = 96   memorize this one an extra ledge
  • 7 x 12 = 84  climb up +24 from 60 to get here
  • 6 x 12 = 72  climb up +12 from 60 to get here
  • 5 x 12 = 60   (START HERE)

Round Up

They say mathematicians make good climbers because they're always looking for the best route through a problem.

When you're faced with a problem in maths it also helps to think like a climber - break the problem down into chunks and see if there are any safe ledges to jump onto and hold on while you figure it out. When we do this for the 12 times tables we soon see they're not so difficult after all.

Here's a useful worksheet versions of the 12x tables rock face:

worksheet version fill in the safe ledges first!

I have a little confession to make here - I was more of a wanna be rock climber than the real thing. The times I took to the rock face it was with an instructor and a safety harness!

I'm Ged, Co-founder of Komodo, ex-maths teacher and dad. If you have any questions please get in touch.

About KomodoKomodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning maths (15 minutes, 3 to 5 times per week) that fits into the busy routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in maths - without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at maths - you can even try Komodo for free. 

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