Many Ways to Master Multiplication


Are your children struggling to master multiplication facts? They’re not alone! It’s a tough subject for many children.

Thankfully, there are multiple ways for kids to practice and master their times tables without a lot of fuss!

Many Ways to Master Multiplication

Mastering Multiplication Facts

Multiplication Memorization

Some of us may remember learning our multiplication facts the minimalist way…drill until memorized. Knowing them off the top of our heads is nice, once they’re there. But for many kids, lacking understanding of the facts can really be a detriment.

Getting toward memorization in meaningful ways is possible, and beneficial! They can work their way through the facts by gaining deeper conceptual understanding first with physical objects and drawing, then seeing patterns through visual skip counting, learning songs, and finally playing games and reviewing with repetition.

Fast Adding

Using physical objects gathered in groups to begin introducing multiplication can show the child that multiplying is really just adding fast. When they can see and count that 2+2+2=6 is literally two, three times, it helps make the abstract concrete.

Working first in the physical form on a lower level makes it real before they move into larger quantities. You can visualize the facts in hands-on ways by bundling straws/pencils/sticks into groups with yarn, collect small stones in piles, sort candy, and draw the facts with their own pictures that tell a story (making it their own makes it memorable).

Multiplication Patterns

Seeing how the multiplication tables create different patterns is not only fun but visual mathematics has been shown to improve math performance. A few fun ways to work with multiplication patterns include hundreds charts, multiplication circles, and multiplication wheels.

  • Hundreds Charts – skip count your way through each multiplication table on it’s own hundreds chart and color in the numbers to see a pattern emerge
  • Multiplication Circles – try these on paper with different colored pens, or create one with wood, nails, and different colors of yarn
  • Multiplication Wheel – create a colorful multiplication wheel to use as a reference

Make Multiplication Musical 

Music activates both hemispheres of the brain, which maximizes learning and memorization. Incorporating rhythm and music into your math facts makes them stick, once you’ve worked on number sense and deeper understanding. Learn skip counting songs to well-known tunes, or create your own, and don’t forget to add physical movements!

Math Games

Playing games is a wonderful and engaging way to practice mastered or almost mastered facts to help achieve automaticity. Include a variety of games with bonus points for games that use whole body movement!

  • Splash Learn – online multiplication games for 3rd graders (they have a variety for different grade levels)
  • Math Cards from youcubed.org – match numbers that are displayed in a variety of ways
  • How Close to 100 from youcubed.org – use arrays, dice, and a 100 grid to fill the space as a team
  • Toss a bean bag, kick a ball, jump onto numbers with sidewalk chalk, or jump rope while singing or reciting the skip counting songs

Repetition Activities

After all the fun has been had, keeping those facts accurate and retained sometimes just needs a bit of repetitive review. Especially once mastered, this is effective. If they aren’t mastered, they could just keep getting them wrong without understanding or achieving growth. Use these resources as a review to keep their skills sharp.

Multiplication Best Practices

As we guide our kids through learning their math facts, it’s important for us to keep in mind that mathematics isn’t about being fast. Being timed and able to spit out the answer quickly is not the goal and doesn’t a mathematician make. Mathematical thinking can be slow and creative and visual and considered. Allow kids lots of time to work out problems in different ways, in visual or physical ways, musical or artistic ways, and watch their understanding bloom!

Megan Van Sipe

About the author

I am a Michigan mama, teaching and raising two little woodland sprites to love nature, reading, storytelling, and art. I believe home education is a radical act of creativity and I love encouraging others to embrace that in themselves.

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