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When I was an elementary school student in 3rd-grade math, we had 'Mad Minutes' in which we were given 60 seconds to solve as many multiplication problems as we could. This was how teachers assessed our mastery of multiplication facts up to 12x12. While I scored high on my 'Mad Minute' assessments, it wasn't until I was much, much older that I started to actually understand multiplication and what it was.
At The Learning Room, we understand that multiplication is a huge sore spot for many students, parents, and teachers. Multiplication is introduced in the second or third grade and is essential to every grade level thereafter. Here are just a few skills that learners need a strong understanding of multiplication to master.
We view multiplication skills as essential to student success, so how do we make multiplication stick?
This post will take you through several strategies and examples you can use to help your child build a strong foundation for multiplication.
Repeated addition is often the first look that students get into multiplication. Repeated addition is simply adding the same number together over and over again. Repeated addition is the foundation of understanding what multiplication actually is. After all, multiplication is just a faster way to add a number together several times.
Skip Counting on a Number Line
Another gateway to early multiplication skills is using number lines to skip count. Multiplication is really just adding a number to itself over and over again in a faster, more efficient way. Showing this on a number line can help kids understand the multiplication process, helping them build upon and grasp harder multiplication concepts later on.
Looking for Patterns on the 100s Chart
The hundreds chart isn't just for kindergarteners or 1st graders! Using a hundreds chart is a great way to talk about number patterns, which ties directly to multiplication and division! One way to open this discussion is to print a 100s chart and have your learner highlight some patterns they notice. They might notice that every column has the same numbers in the ones place all the way down, or that every other number is even or odd. The possibilities with this exploration are endless.
Arrays and equal groups are often accompanied by early multiplication fact practice. They signify learners stepping up in their understanding and proficiency in multiplication. Using arrays can help students struggling to understand multiplication's foundations. In math, students will be expected to be able to look at an array and write the multiplication sentence and draw an array for a given multiplication sentence.
Another visual representation, like arrays, area models, are a great way to show multiplication in a tangible way. Based on the formula for area, length times width, we can use factors in a multiplication sentence to draw the area, helping learners find the product.
This may seem counterintuitive....why give a child who is still learning to multiply a chart with all of the answers on it? Well, when used in tandem with area models and arrays, multiplication charts are a fantastic tool to deepen your child's understanding of multiplication. You can have your child use a multiplication chart to check their answers, explain their work or show their thinking in another way. Bringing in tools like crayons for shading or cubes to cover an area will help strengthen and link this with arrays and area models as well.
Other Tips & Tricks
Luckily, multiplication produces a lot of noticeable, predictable patterns!
Even x Even = Even
Even x Odd = Even
Odd x Odd = Odd
Multiplying by 10 = The other factor plus a zero in the ones place
Multiplying by 2 is just doubling a number
Use friendly facts (instead of trying to do 12 x 8, try 10 x 8 plus 2 x 8)
Use facts that are easy for you (if 6 x6 is tricky, try 5 x 6 as a starting point)
The key to making these tips and tricks helpful is if your child notices these patterns. While they are practicing multiplication, you can ask them some. guiding questions:
What are you noticing about the ___ facts?
What are you noticing about the products from these problems?
Do you notice a pattern in these problems?
What friendly fact or easy number can you start at to help you solve this problem?
Mastering multiplication can be hard, but it is an essential math skill that is the foundation of many advanced math concepts and skills. With a solid foundation in multiplication, your child can move forward confidently in their mathematical journey! Learn more about how to help your child with multiplication with our Multiplication Freebie.