Unit studies are a great way to dive deeply into a topic and have some fun exploring connections between topics. Many kids struggle with learning their multiplication tables. But knowing them to the point of automaticity is an important foundation for more complex mathematics. To help your kids get those facts down, you can have fun with a multiplication unit study.
This guide will give you ideas of books, videos, and activities you can use to make learning the multiplication facts a little more fun.
Sometimes, when you have been working on a concept and your kids just can’t seem to get it, they just need a little more repetition, but if that repetition is boring, they are going to tune out the information. It needs to be engaging and on the right level to get their attention, and you need their attention before you can hope that any information is going to stay in their brain long-term.
Picture Books for Learning Multiplication
- Each Orange Had Eight Slices by Paul Giganti Jr.
- 2 X 2 = Boo!: A Set of Spooky Multiplication Stories by Loreen Leedy
- Minnie’s Diner: A Multiplying Menu by Dale Ann Dodds
- The Best of Times by Greg Tang
- Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin (Charlesbridge Math Adventures) by Pam Calvert
Throw in a little history with this fun book: A Quick History of Math: From Counting Cavemen to Computers by Clive Gifford
Songs & Videos for Learning Multiplication
YouTube has lots of fun videos and songs you can play to help memorize multiplication facts. Here are some of my favorites:
- School House Rock Multiplication Rock
- Multiplication Rock by Rap N’Learn
- Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel
- Times Tales is a series of videos and activities that use stories and pneumonic devices to memorize the multiplication facts. Some kids love this type of activity and it helps when no other strategies work, but other kids will find the need to learn a story for each math fact frustrating. I found it a useful resource to help with the journey of multiplication fact mastery. Check it out at timestales.com
Gross Motor Activities
- Chant the multiplication facts while jumping rope, marching around the house, or doing jumping jacks. Once your kids know the facts in order (3 x3 is 9, 3 x 4 is 12) mix it up, you chant the first part in a random order, and the respond with the answer, while trying to keep the same rhythm (3 x3 is 9, 3 x 8 is 24 etc.).
- Have them draw a giant multiplication table in the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Afterward you can call out a question (4 x 4 is ?) and your child can jump to the correct answer.
- Play hot potato with the multiplication facts.
- Keep a balloon in the air, each player has to shout the next number in a skip counting series as they hit the balloon…see how high you can get the numbers!
Fine Motor Activities
- Have students create a story picture book of their own. They can pick a theme and follow the format of Each Orange Had 8 Slices, listed above, to create their own story. Have them create artwork and then add sentences onto pages. If you have a color printer, you could even set them up with a free graphic design program, such as Canva, and use free digital art if you want to put a tech spin on the project.
- Skip counting necklaces or bracelets. With some number beads and plain beads, your kids can make math jewelry. Place two plain beads, then the number 3, two more plain beads, then the number six. The plain beads represent the number we are skipping. Each number of the times table will need it’s own unique piece of jewelry.
- Multiplication paper chains
- Multiplication color by number
Let your kids use resources such as their jewelry or paper chains when working on multiplication worksheets, referencing the facts over and over again, and writing in the correct answers is part of the memorization process. It is not cheating! As they memorize they will stop referring to their helpers when they are ready.
Games are a great way to make learning something that is repetitive a little more interesting. There are lots of simple games you can play with materials you have lying around the house. The following books are collections of easy-to-make and play multiplication games. These are a great option for limited budgets.
- Marvelous Multiplication: Games and Activities that Make Math Easy and Fun
- Multiplication and Division Games and Activities – Grade 3: Math Activity Book by Luminous Learning
- Cards games – math war, use plain playing cards, each player will turn over two cards, multiply them together, whoever has the highest number takes the cards. Player with most cards wins. (We like to put a time limit on games like this instead of playing until one player has all the cards, because that takes forever and then no one wants to play again.
- You can also purchase math war card decks.
- Board games – Prime Climb
- Dice games – Yahtzee
Sometimes a multiplication unit study where you cover the same material in many different ways is all your kids need to get those math facts down.