8 Methods to Teach Multiplication

Multiplication is a fundamental mathematical skill that serves as a cornerstone for more advanced concepts. How we teach multiplication can significantly impact a child’s understanding and confidence in math. As a parent of a 5th grader, I was recently reminded of this when my daughter came home with a list of numbers representing products from multiplying numbers 2 through 9. Her teacher had given directions to memorize all the factors that make up these numbers and be able to recite them by October 1st. This traditional approach is just one of many ways to teach multiplication. In this article, we’ll explore different methods to teach multiplication, share online resources, and highlight tools like the worksheet generator on Edthings that can help reinforce these concepts.

The Traditional Method: Memorization of Multiplication Tables

The method my daughter’s teacher employed is rooted in a traditional approach: memorizing multiplication tables. This method emphasizes rote learning, where students repeatedly practice and recall multiplication facts until they become second nature. While this approach is often criticized for being tedious, it remains one of the most effective ways to ensure that students can quickly and accurately recall multiplication facts.

• Builds speed and accuracy in multiplication.
• Provides a strong foundation for more complex mathematical operations like division and fractions.
• Simple and straightforward, requiring minimal resources.

Challenges:

• Can be monotonous and disengaging for some students.
• Focuses on memorization rather than understanding.
Personal Reflection: When I first saw my daughter’s assignment, I was reminded of my own school days when memorizing multiplication tables was a rite of passage. I remember the pressure to get them right and the satisfaction that came with finally mastering them. While this method might seem old-fashioned, it’s hard to argue against its effectiveness when it comes to building a solid foundation in math. This method is a classic way to teach multiplication.

Using Visual Aids: Arrays and Area Models

Visual aids are powerful tools to teach multiplication, especially for students who are more visually oriented learners. Arrays and area models are two common visual methods that help students understand the concept of multiplication as repeated addition.

Arrays:

An array is a visual representation of multiplication using rows and columns. For example, the multiplication fact 3 x 4 can be shown as 3 rows of 4 dots or objects. Arrays help students visualize the grouping process in multiplication, making it easier to understand the concept of repeated addition.

Area Models:

Area models use rectangles to represent multiplication. The length and width of the rectangle correspond to the factors, and the area represents the product. This method is particularly effective in showing how multiplication relates to geometry and helps students grasp the concept of area.

Online Resources for Visual Learning:

Personal Reflection: When my daughter and I explored arrays together, it was like a light bulb went off in her head. Seeing the numbers visually grouped made the abstract concept of multiplication much more concrete for her. It was a reminder of how different students learn in different ways, and why it’s important to offer various methods to teach multiplication.

Skip Counting

Skip counting is a method that teaches multiplication as a form of repeated addition. For instance, to solve 5 x 3, a student would count by fives three times (5, 10, 15). This method builds on a student’s understanding of addition while introducing them to the concept of multiplication.

• Reinforces addition skills while introducing multiplication.
• Can be a fun and rhythmic way to teach multiplication.

Challenges:

• May be slower than other methods for larger numbers.
• Requires strong addition skills as a foundation.

Online Resources for Skip Counting:

• ABCmouse: Offers interactive games and activities focused on skip counting.
• CoolMath4Kids: Provides games and exercises that reinforce skip counting as a pathway to multiplication.

Personal Reflection: Skip counting was a game-changer for my daughter. We would practice in the car, counting by twos, fives, and tens. It turned out to be a fun way to teach multiplication, and she began to see the patterns in numbers, which made multiplication feel more intuitive.

Using Number Lines

Number lines are another visual tool that helps students understand multiplication. By jumping along the number line in equal intervals, students can see how multiplication is essentially repeated addition. For example, to solve 4 x 3, a student would make four jumps of three units each on the number line, landing on 12.

• Reinforces the concept of multiplication as repeated addition.
• Provides a visual and kinesthetic way to teach multiplication.

Challenges:

• Can be less efficient for larger numbers.
• Requires a solid understanding of number sequences.

Online Resources for Number Lines:

Personal Reflection: The number line method was particularly helpful for my daughter when she was dealing with more challenging multiplication facts. Seeing the jumps on the line helped her make sense of the process, especially when the numbers got bigger. It was a great way to teach multiplication and reinforce the idea that multiplication is just adding the same number over and over.

Games and Interactive Tools

Incorporating games and interactive tools into multiplication practice can make learning more engaging and fun. Many online resources offer multiplication games that turn practice into a playful experience, making it a highly effective way to teach multiplication.

• Makes learning multiplication more enjoyable.
• Provides instant feedback and reinforcement.
• Engages students who might be less interested in traditional methods.

Challenges:

• May not be as effective without direct guidance from an adult or teacher.

Top Online Resources for Multiplication Games:

• Prodigy Math Game: A popular math game that adapts to a student’s skill level and includes multiplication practice.
• Khan Academy: Offers a wide range of interactive exercises and videos on multiplication.
• Times Tables Rock Stars: A platform that gamifies multiplication practice, allowing students to compete and improve their skills.

Personal Reflection: My daughter loves playing Prodigy, and I’ve noticed a significant improvement in her multiplication skills since she started using it. The competitive element motivates her, and the instant feedback helps her correct mistakes and learn from them immediately. It’s a fun and effective way to teach multiplication.

Generating Practice Worksheets

While online tools and games are incredibly useful, there’s still a lot to be said for good old-fashioned practice worksheets. These can be particularly effective for reinforcing multiplication facts and giving students the repetition they need to master the basics. Worksheets are a tried-and-true method to teach multiplication.

• Provides structured practice.
• Can be tailored to focus on specific multiplication facts or challenges.
• Allows for consistent practice over time.

Challenges:

• May feel repetitive or boring to some students.
• Requires oversight to ensure students are practicing correctly.

Generating Worksheets on Edthings:

One of the most effective ways to provide customized practice is by using the worksheet generator on Edthings. This tool allows you to create worksheets tailored to your child’s specific needs. You can generate worksheets focusing on particular multiplication tables, mixed multiplication problems, or even word problems that apply multiplication in real-world scenarios.

Personal Reflection: As a parent, I’ve found the worksheet generator on Edthings to be a lifesaver. My daughter can work on specific multiplication facts that she finds challenging, and I can see her progress as she completes each sheet. The ability to customize the worksheets means I can target her practice, making it more effective and less frustrating. It’s an excellent resource to teach multiplication. Of course, I am biased as I created the worksheet generators on EdThings.com to help teach math.

Real-Life Applications

Applying multiplication to real-life situations can help students understand the relevance of what they’re learning. Cooking, shopping, and even playing sports can provide opportunities to practice and teach multiplication.

Examples:

• Cooking: Recipes often require doubling or halving, which involves multiplication.
• Shopping: Calculating the total cost of multiple items or finding discounts.
• Sports: Understanding scoring in games, like keeping track of points in basketball or cricket.

Online Resources for Real-Life Math:

• Bedtime Math: Provides daily math problems based on real-life scenarios.
• PBS Kids: Offers games and activities that connect math to everyday life.

Personal Reflection: One of my favorite ways to teach multiplication is through cooking. When we double a recipe, my daughter sees how multiplication is used in real life. It not only reinforces her math skills but also helps her understand why learning multiplication is important.

Using Technology: Apps and Online Programs

In the digital age, there are countless apps and online programs designed to help students practice and teach multiplication. These tools often use adaptive learning, which adjusts the difficulty of problems based on the student’s progress.

• Provides personalized learning experiences.
• Engages students with interactive and multimedia content.
• Allows for tracking progress over time.

Challenges:

• May lead to screen fatigue if overused.

Recommended Apps:

• Khan Academy Kids: Offers a comprehensive approach to learning, including multiplication.
• Sushi Monster: A fun app that combines multiplication practice with a game-like experience.
• Math Bingo: A bingo-style game that reinforces multiplication facts.

Personal Reflection: My daughter loves using apps like Sushi Monster. The interactive nature of these apps keeps her engaged, and she’s able to learn multiplication without even realizing she’s practicing. It’s a great supplement to the other methods we use to teach multiplication at home.

Conclusion

Teaching multiplication is a journey that can be approached in various ways. From traditional memorization to using visual aids, games, real-life applications, and technology, each method offers unique benefits. As a parent, it’s important to recognize that different children learn in different ways. What works for one student may not work for another, and that’s okay.

Incorporating a variety of teaching methods not only keeps learning interesting but also ensures that your child builds a solid understanding of multiplication. Whether it’s practicing with worksheets from Edthings.com, using apps, or applying multiplication in everyday situations, the key is to make learning multiplication a positive and rewarding experience.

As I continue to support my daughter on her multiplication journey, I’m reminded of the importance of patience, persistence, and finding the right tools that work for her. I hope this article provides you with valuable insights and resources to help teach multiplication to your child, ensuring they build a strong foundation for their future math skills.