Multiplication Strategies for Success

Are you looking for new ways to help your students with multiplication?  This post is for you!  Over my years in third grade I have practiced multiplication in many different ways.  Today I want to show you some things that have helped my students to be successful at multiplication without making the entire hundreds chart or just memorizing facts with know conceptual knowledge to back it up.  Let's dive in!

Okay first things first, I have to get this out of the way...and if you don't agree, please scroll on because I have A LOT jam packed into this post. So here it is...I let my kids use their fingers (yes you can shreak in horror now).  Done? Okay, let me explain why...

  1. Our students will always have their fingers (hopefully).
  2. They can be used as a manipulative and go with them everywhere.
  3. They are a great tool for our visual learners and our tactile learners.
 Still don't believe me...ask yourself this:  Would you tell a student with glasses they didn't need them? Its much similar to that. Some kids NEED that visual or physical manipulative, yet you and I know they can't have anything on tests, but they do still have their fingers.

The key to using their fingers is to give them practical ways that don't involve them counting EVERY SINGLE number on a finger. When this happens they end up lost and with the wrong answer anyway.  However, you can give them strategies to use that will help them to efficiently solve problems. And in my experience, as they continue to practice they naturally move from their fingers to memorization through practice and time.

teach multiplication, multiplication centers

I start with teaching 0& 1. I just teach the properties for these so that students know everything times zero is always zero. They usually get this through modeling. For instance, I will say show me zero groups of 3.  And we talk through it.  And they understand that no groups is no groups.  Then for the ones. I says show me one group of 4, just to give an example, and then they model it. These two come fairly easy.

From there, we move on to 2, 4, 5 & 10.  The reason for teaching these next is that they can all use skip counting.  For 4's we do double twos. So they count on their fingers skip counting each number twice.

Next we conquer the 3s.  For three I teach my students to use the sections of their fingers. (We do have to talk about the "imaginary" line on our thumb because we only have two lines on it. But if you look at your fingers, you have three sections between the joints. My students use these sections to count their numbers. For instance, for 3x4 they would hold up 4 fingers and they would could three sections on each finger counting on until out of fingers to give them 12.

Back to 4s for just a moment, for students that struggle with skip counting by 2s (and some kiddos have a hard time with that). I have them count the three sections of their fingers and then we count the tip for the fourth part.

You can click here to watch a video that explains this in more detail.

After these facts that leaves us with 6,7,8,9.  Most people know the nines trick so I'm going to leave that one alone and show you some other things that also work, because that has confused some of my students in the past.  There are two ways I like to teach these numbers.  The first is to decompose the numbers to make the problem simpler.  See the example below.

I also have them use a T-chart if that doesn't make sense.  Here is an example of a T-chart.

To make this students count their number, write it down. They then take the last number they got and count one more group of the number, then they take that number and add to it. They keep going until they get to their number.  The reason I like the T-chart is that it saves from making the whole multiplication chart, which can take some of them so long and they end up really frustrated.  This way they just make the number they need and they can always go back to the chart for that number if they run into it again on their work for that day.

I abbreviate the T-chart further (as seen in the picture) by have them start at a safe number when they are multiplying high numbers.  For instance. 7x7...this is a long way to count if they start at zero.  However, they know they can skip count their 5s. So students start with 5 (one of the safe numbers they can count).  They find the answer to 5 and then they count 7 more, write down that number for 7x6, and they then count 7 more and get to the answer for 7x7.

multiplication practice

These are just a few ways I have my students learn multiplication facts.  We do lots of fluency practice as well to get them ready.  To practice fluency we do things such as rolling dice, around the world, and multiplication war.  The combination of activities usually has them fluent by the time they leave my third grade room.

You can grab my freebie Multiplication Go Fish! Game by clicking here. 

I also LOVE using clip it games and you can find my Multiplication Clip It game by clicking the image below.

Another thing I like to incorporate is my Multiplication Lapbook.  In the lapbook students take notes on overall content, have opportunities to practice and it leave them with a great way to refer back to multiplication. I also love using the lapbook because it gives them an artifact of their learning that they can take home and show their parents.

If you would like to learn more about my Multiplication Lapbook, you can find it by clicking the image below.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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