Do times tables come to mind when I ask how you teach multiplication? They are one of many tools I like to use. Memorizing multiplication tables helps kids do mental math more quickly and allows them to do more complex computations. That said, starting with an understanding of the concept of multiplication is critical.
The activities here help kids both get the concept and practice multiplication tables when you teach multiplication.
Teach multiplication with these tools
From 100 charts to multiplication tables, plus games and student created tools, there are lots of resources to use to teach multiplication.
Start with skip counting
Skip counting is a cornerstone for learning multiplication. So it’s a great place to start. One way to help kids skip count and start seeing patterns is to use a 100s chart and clear markers.
Have students move along the chart and find the correct numbers to skip count by any number. Say you are practicing skip counting by 5s. Have kids count by ones up to the first multiple (in this case 5), and put a marker there. Then keep counting by ones until they count 5 more. Place another marker there at 10. Students can keep counting it out until they begin to see a pattern. Ask them to try placing the next marker without counting by ones (15, 20, 25, 30 …).
Get free hundred’s chart puzzles here that students can put together and then use for skip counting.
Introduce multiplication tables
Display a multiplication table in the room and give students their own copy. Look at it together and ask students what patterns they notice. For example, they might say:
- The 5 column/row counts up in 5s, (alternates 5 and 0 as the last number)
- The 2 column/row is all even numbers
- Some columns/rows are always even, while some alternate between even and odd
- Columns and rows for each number are the same.
Then point out a few things:
- 1 times any number is the number itself. So 1 ✕ 1 = 1, 2 ✕ 1 = 2, 3 ✕ 1 = 3 and so on. Kids can learn their 1s facts as an easy win.
- Tell students that their doubles facts are the same as their 2s multiplication facts. Show them that 3 + 3 is the same as 3 ✕ 2, and both equal 6. Ask them various 2s facts that they should know because of their doubles facts.
- Make the connection between skip counting and multiplication. Try 5s and 10s with students next.
Make multiplication wheels
Multiplication wheels are a different visual for students to learn multiplication. I often make them in the form of flowers and create a math garden in the classroom.
Each flower starts with a circle in the center surrounded by a double row of 12 petals. Here’s how to make them:
- Write the primary factor in the center circle. For example, if you are working on the 4s table, write 4 in the center.
- On the smaller, inner petals, write the secondary factors (each number from 1–12).
- On the larger, outer petals, write the product of the center number and the inner petal number.
While you can create these for the room, students learn from writing it out and then having a visual reminder.
Make multiplication booklets
Like the multiplication wheels/flowers, part of the practice comes in making the booklets. Once students make them, they can use them again and again for reviewing.
You’ll need a strip of paper 60 cm by 5 cm (about 24 in by 2 in) for each student. Then follow these steps. It may help to demonstrate for students the first time they make one.
- Fold over a rectangle about 4 cm (1.5 in) wide at the left side of the strip. Continue to fold the strip of paper over on itself for the length of the strip. Cut off any leftover paper.
- Each booklet is for one multiplier. We’ll use 6 for this example. Write: Tables Booklet x 6 on the front of the booklet.
- Turn back the front page of the booklet. On the left side, write 1 x 6. On the right side, make a pattern of dots for the answer (6 dots). Then write the number 6 in the top right-hand corner.
- Open the booklet one more page. Write 2 x 6 on the left side, make another pattern of 6 dots on the right, and write the number 12 in the top right-hand corner. (Both the original 6 and the new 6 dots will show, making 12.)
- Continue to open up the strip of paper, each time add one more multiple of 6 until the booklet is completed.
- Students can use the booklets to quiz each other on their times’ facts.
Play a card turnover multiplication game
You’ll need a deck of cards with the Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Jokers removed. Tell students that aces act as 1s.
- Have students shuffle the cards and divide them into two equal piles. Each player has a stack face down in front of them on the table.
- At the same time, each player flips a card from the top of their pile.
- Players multiply the two numbers, and the first player to call out the correct answer wins both cards. For example, if one student turns over a 7 and the other turns over a 4, the first person to call out 28 would take both cards.
- If both players say the correct answer at the same time, they each keep one card each.
- If neither player has the correct answer, both students reclaim their card and put it at the bottom of their pile.
- The goal is to have the most cards at the end.
Need more math resources? You’ll find them in my store. And stay tuned for more multiplication tools, like multiplication task cards coming soon!
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