• Evelyn Fraser

Multiplication: it doesn't add up

"This is just adding over and over and over again! Why do I have to memorize the tables?!"



I stared at Z, thinking about that concept of multiplication and how much trouble we'd have in fractions. How much trouble that concept is as a teaching tool. How much trouble the tables were giving us just then.


Has your student struggled with the tables?


Multiplication facts make later math easier. Memorizing them isn't rocket-science hard, though for many of us, it feels like it! Getting started, go with/check in on the two, five and then ten tables. If your student has those memorized, skip down.


Work on one to three facts in order at a time, and always start with manipulatives:


- your hands. Rock, paper, scissors-style, but with the multiplicand (the factor you're scaling) and the multiplier (the factor you're scaling up with) on your hand/their hand.


- make arrays, using beans, buttons, Lego, coins, pasta, play dough.

An array of six, multiplied by two.

- use different language! Instead of "times", use "groups of". How many is two groups of five? Or "per": there are six paints per row, there are twelve paints per two rows.


- draw it. Your student starts drawing from the manipulatives, and eventually, draws the arrays from memory. Then you can launch into all sorts of multiplication games. For online games, check out YouCubed, ST Math, BrainQuake.


Keep the drawings! The other tables - three, four, six, seven, eight and nine - relate to the two, five and ten tables. Students see this if they build the closest table to the new table. So for the three table, build out or use the two table drawing(s). Then talk about making groups of three per row, make the groups, draw the groups.


Read! Spunky Monkeys on Parade, 2X2=Boo!, Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream, Sea Squares, How Do You Count a Dozen Ducklings?, Stacks of Trouble, Annos Mysterious Multiplying Jar, Eggs and Legs, Lots of Ladybugs, Toasty Toes, Breakfast at Danny's Diner.


Make multiplication real: double recipes. When your family is hanging out, see if your student can figure out equal groups of fingers, arms, hands, etc. On a walk, spot window arrays; at the grocery store, point out arrays of egg cartons, milk bottles, produce; gassing up, see if you can figure out how many tires/car doors/steering wheels are around you.


Like these ideas and want help? Text me at 281-536-6689.

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