Are you ready to teach multiplication to your kids? Multiplication can be a little overwhelming for both teachers and students! So often the main focus of multiplication is simply working to memorize multiplication facts. Which yes, is important. However only focusing on memorization and doesn’t teach kids what multiplication is and how to actually solve the problems!
I worked with so many kids, in my special education teacher days, that struggled with higher level math because they didn’t really know how to multiply. They were taught to memorize multiplication facts and hadn’t learned any other strategies. They had no idea how to solve a to multiplication problem short of trying to remember the answer, using a calculator, or looking it up on a multiplication table.
Yes, it is good to memorize math facts. However, it is important to first understand what you are doing and how to actually solve math problems!
There are so many different ways to teach kids how to solve multiplication problems. Today, I want to share with you my favorite strategies for teaching multiplication. So, before you pull out the flash cards, take time, slow down, and teach your kids, what multiplication is! It will be time well spent!
I like to start teaching my kids multiplication by using arrays. You can use an array for any multiplication problem. It shows a very clear visual representation of what we are doing when we multiply. I teach my kids to first read a multiplication problem. For example when you see 2 x 3 = ?, you would read it “two times 3”. Then we talk about how that multiplication just means we have one number multiple times, just like it sounds. For our example 2 x 3 we know that it means we have a group of 2 three times. I have my kids do arrays using circles. The first number tells us how many circles we put in each row and the second number tells us how many rows of circles we draw.
Another strategy that, is very similar and just as easy to see as arrays, is making groups. Instead of drawing rows of circles, we draw large circles to represent each group. For the example 4 x 3 I teach that it means “4 times 3” or “3 groups of 4.” You would draw 3 large circles to represent the 3 groups. Then you would put 4 small circles in each group to get the answer 12.
3. Repeated Addition
For kids who are quick with addition, repeated addition may be their favorite multiplication strategy, rather than drawing pictures. Any multiplication problem can be solved with repeated addition. multiplying 4 x 4 is the same thing as adding 4 four times.
4 x 4 = 4 + 4 + 4 + 4
4. Line arrays
A line array is one of my favorite methods to teach kids how to solve multiplication problems. It works similar to drawing an array with circles, except even easier to draw! It works by counting how many times the lines intersect. For example, you can solve can solve the problem 6 x 7 by drawing 6 horizontal lines and 7 vertical lines intersecting them. Your product will be shown by how many times the lines interesect.
5. Number lines, Skip Counting
For some students, skip counting is a great way to solve multiplication problems. I like to have my students skip count by the smaller factor. They skip count up the number of times of the other factor. In the example 3 x 4 you would teach you student to skip count by three, four times.
6. 9’s Finger Trick
Multiplying by nine can be difficult for some kids! The larger numbers take longer to draw and count with arrays, and mistakes are often made when trying to skip count. I loved the 9’s finger trick as soon as I saw it. It saved some of my special needs students a lot of time after they learned it.
With your hands out in front of you, like the diagram to the right, number your fingers 1-10 starting with the left pinky. The first step is to put down the number of the finger that you are multiplying 9 by. For the example 9 x 6 you would put down the number 6 finger (the thumb on your right hand. The number of fingers to the left of the finger you put down will be the number for the 10’s digit for your product. The number to the right of the finger you put down will equal the 1’s digit for the product. For 9 x 6, there are 5 fingers to the left of the finger you put down and 4 fingers to the right. This tells us that the product is 54.
Introduction to Multiplication Workbook
If you are looking for help teaching each of these strategies, I created a simple workbook that goes through each of these strategies and more. It provides examples, practice, and assessment for each multiplication table. Part 1, Multiplying by 0 and 1 is available for free here on my Tpt store. Parts 2 through 5 cover multiplying by 2 through 10 are available on my Teacherspayteachers store individually. Or you can get the entire workbook Parts 1-5 with extra practice pages for only $7.00.
- 1: Multiplying by 0 and 1- FREE
- 2: Multiplying by 2 and 3
- 3: Multiplying by 4 and 5
- 4: Multiplying by 6 and 7
- 5: Multiplying by 8, 9, and 10
- Extra Practice Pages
Entirely at Home now has a store!! You can get the Introduction to Multiplication Printable Workbook right here on my site.
Then Comes Memorization
After your students fully understand multiplication and understand how to solve problems its time to start memorizing! Your kids will have a much easier time and be less frustrated when multiplying and dividing larger numbers if they memorize the basic multiplication facts. Memorization does not have to be hard! Have fun with it. Take it a little at a time. There are so many resources now to help kids memorize math facts! You can use games, songs, apps, or flash cards. Whatever your kids enjoy that works for you! Below are a few of my favorite ways my kids are memorizing their math facts!
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- Songs- If you do a search on youtube for multiplication songs you will get about a million results. We have found a lot of songs we love on the website Songs for Teaching. We also found Multiplication unplugged on Amazon. It has a catchy tune that focuses on skip counting and each times table. If you have amazon prime you can stream it for free as well!
- XtraMath.org is a web-based program that will give your kids practice in memorizing basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. My only regret with this program is that I didn’t find it sooner. I have both my 6 and 8-year-olds doing this every day right now. It only takes about 5-10 minutes, but it is definitely improving their fluency in math facts.
- Flashcards– My kids actually enjoy flashcards! We use them for several different things. We make a game out of it and the kids try to get more cards than me! (they get the card if they know it and I get it if they don’t!) The trick is to make sure you put in enough cards that they know so that they always win! You kids will love always beating you in the game. You can find multiplication flash cards at the dollar tree or Wal-mart, on Amazon.com, or make your own the old fashioned way with some index cards and markers!
Time to Multiply!
Multiplication doesn’t have to be a frustrating math concept to learn for your kids! I saw so many kids who didn’t want to even try multiplication problems they had struggled to memorize their math facts! Start slow and give your kids some strategies first!
What are your favorite multiplication strategies? What were your favorite ways to teach your kids to multiply? Comment below! I would love to add more activities, games, songs, and tricks to my list of favorite methods for teaching multiplication!