Finger Tables

This article was written by Ms Aishah Binte Abdullah (Albel), a Lead Educational Therapist at Bishan Learning Centre, and a member of the Maths core team at the DAS.


Many concepts in Mathematics require students to multiply and divide numbers. Take for example this question which asks us to find the missing number in the equivalent fraction: =. To solve this question, students need to do two things:

Step 1) Find out how many times we can multiply the denominator, 7 to get the product 21

Step 2) Multiply the numerator, 3 by the same number of times to get the product 9

To successfully perform these mathematics operations quickly and accurately, students need to be well versed with their times tables. Most students are able to recall the multiplication facts from the 1 x _ (times table) to 5 x _ (times table) but have difficulty memorising and retrieving the times table facts from 6 x _ (times table) to 9 x _(times table).

Since everyone is blessed with fingers, I am going to show you how we can use our fingers as counting tools to help us with retrieving our 8 and 9 times table facts.

Let’s discover how:

To do the 8 finger times table (from 1 x 8 to 5 x 8), hold up both hands outstretched with palms facing down. To calculate the answer to 2 x 8, fold in the ring finger of the left hand and both the little finger and the ring finger of the right hand. The finger to the left of the folded finger of the left-hand counts as 1 ten while the remaining 6 outstretched fingers count as 6 ones. 1 ten is then added to 6 ones to obtain the mathematical equation 2 x 8 = 16.

To do the 8 finger times table (from 6 x 8 to 10 x 8), a different set of steps is applied. The fingers on the left hand represent the ones digits while the fingers on the right hand represent the times tables. The fingers on both hands are numbered 6 to 10 from the little finger to the thumb. To carry out the procedure, follow these steps:


STEP 1: Hold your hands with palms facing you and fingers towards each other. Number the fingers on each hand as 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. The fingers on your left hand are the ones digits while the fingers on your right hand are the tens digits.


STEP 2: To work out the equation – 7 x 8, touch finger 7 on the left hand with times table finger 8 on the right hand to form a bridge.


STEP 3: Then multiply the 3 fingers on the left hand with the 2 fingers on the right hand above the 7 x 8 bridge. 3 x 2 = 6


STEP 4: Next, multiply the 2 bridge fingers and the 3 fingers below the bridge ie. 5 fingers by 10.


STEP 5: Finally, add 6 to 50. This will give us the answer 56. 7 x 8 = 56.


Use the trick above to see if you can obtain the answers to 8 x 8!

Now that we have learned how useful our fingers are in helping us with the 8 times table, let’s see how we can use them to help us with our 9 times tables! Begin with both hands outstretched and palms facing up. The fingers are numbered 1 to 10 from the left hand to the right hand. To work out the answer to 4 x 9, fold in the fourth finger of the left hand. This gives you 3 tens before the folded finger and 6 ones after it.  Add the 3 tens to the 6 ones. Hence the equation – 4 x 9 = 36 is obtained.

Following the procedures of the finger tables closely and practising regularly, students of varying abilities can carry out multiplication operations precisely and quickly. How amazingly efficient our fingers are in helping us achieve success in Mathematics!



Adler – n – subtract: QA Fingers