5 Easy Ways to Introduce Multiplication

Learning multiplication is one of the most daunting tasks a student can face at school. It’s not just students who have trouble with the concept;…

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Learning multiplication is one of the most daunting tasks a student can face at school. It’s not just students who have trouble with the concept; many educators feel inadequate with the idea or go too fast. Don’t get discouraged, these 5 easy ways to introduce multiplication will help you get started on the right track right away.

Here are five easy strategies to make multiplication fun in your classroom: 

Strategy one: Use manipulatives for repeated practice 

I am a big believer in using manipulatives and objects to teach math to elementary students. 

Anything can be manipulative such as foam tiles, beans, coins, markers, M&Ms, buttons, etc. Instead of counting a set of objects in total such as 4 blue and 4 green M&Ms (8 total), I am now going to think of two sets of 4 M&Ms (2 sets of 4 is the same as 8).  This creative reasoning is part of teaching multiplication. Students must see the visual object being equal sets of groups, rows, or columns. 

Strategy two: Use Flocabulary to make challenging concepts fun 

Watch these fantastic Flocabulary videos to learn how to multiply fractions. Flocabulary songs guide students through new concepts and learn about multiplication tables or order of operations. 

Your class can explore the Flocabulary website on their own, or it can be best if used in conjunction with a whole class lesson. After the Flocabulary video, we discuss the song, and I provide further explanation of the math topic. Flocabulary has a ton of songs that can guide students through multiplying the numerators, multiplying the denominators, and simplifying the final product. 

Strategy three: Build arrays with Cheerios or M&Ms 

Building arrays is another excellent way to learn about Multiplication. An array is a set of objects arranged in equal rows and columns. Any small item can be used to build a collection, so why not use something simple such as cheerios or M&Ms? Arrays provide a structured way to see different groups. Using arrays makes understanding Multiplication easier. You can give kids cheerios or M&Ms and ask them to build arrays given various multiplication facts.

Strategy four: Use legos to show equal groups 

Most kids LOVE building with LEGOS, and so they find learning multiplication fun and less intimidating when they get to use LEGOS! 

Using LEGOS to build equal groups is easy. Just start with a large pile of LEGOS. Then ask your students to create similar groups. For example, you might say, “Can you show me six groups of 3?” Then, when they’ve made equal piles, you can say, “Excellent! How many LEGO bricks did you use in total?” 

After practicing this several times, you can use a piece of paper or whiteboard and ask them to write a number sentence to represent their groups. If they struggle, ask them again how they found the total. It may take some time, but they are either counting all the bricks one by one, adding the groups (3+3+3+3+3+3), or use Multiplication.

“How many 3s do we have?” When they say “6,” you can then show them how to write the same expression using multiplication rather than addition. Once they get the hang of it, you can grab a set of multiplication flash cards. Or you can call out problems for them to try.

Strategy five: Use Flipbooks to Model 

Flipbooks are an interactive and hands-on way to learn.  Each page is a fun surprise.  You can use them for vocabulary words, literature units, book reports, reading logs, study guides, and even math.  This math flipbook can help your students learn and apply multiplication in a fun and engaging lesson. It is a printable file for supporting your students in learning all about multiplication. 

What’s included in the math multiplication flipbook? 
What is Multiplication?
Multiplication as Arrays
Multiplication as Equal Groups
Multiplication as Repeated Addition
Multiplication as Skip Counting with a focus on Tape Diagrams, Number Lines and Mental Math

Along with walking students through each multiplication model, there are help videos to support you with printing and assembling a double-sided flipbook! This math flipbook will be an excellent reference for students as they learn this crucial skill!

With these simple five strategies, you can see how multiplication doesn’t have to be scary or a daunting task for yourself or your students. Use these ideas to support a well-structured math curriculum, and your student’s math proficiency will improve! 

What are some other ways you can utilize flipbooks or multiplication manipulatives in your classroom?

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