Tricks for Teaching Multiplication in Elementary School

Rocking Multiplication Facts

As elementary teachers, we know the importance of building a strong foundation in multiplication and division. These skills are not just math essentials; they’re gateways to problem-solving and critical thinking. Today, I’m excited to share with you some strategies that transformed my classroom into a vibrant learning community, where each student feels empowered and motivated to master these vital math concepts.

Dive into Multiplication with Characters and Stories

Creating Multiplication Characters

Imagine bringing multiplication facts to life with a cast of characters, each with its unique story and personality. “Timmy Two,” “Fiona Five,” and “Sammy Seven” aren’t just numbers; they’re heroes of their mathematical adventures, making the abstract world of multiplication tangible and relatable to young learners.

Start by introducing your students to these characters through storyboards, illustrations, or even class-created puppets. Each character embodies a multiplication table, e.g., Timmy Two loves to double everything, Fiona Five adores the number five, and their stories revolve around these themes.

  • Introducing the Characters: Begin with the lower numbers, which are generally easier for students to grasp. Share stories about how “Timmy Two” goes on adventures, doubling everything in sight. Encourage students to create their own tales or comic strips featuring the characters.
  1. Zero the Zilch – A whimsical character who makes everything disappear, showing that any number times zero is always zero.
  2. Timmy Two – An energetic twin who loves to double everything he finds, making multiplication by two a game of duplication.
  3. Trio Tess – A lively girl who always travels in groups of three, showing how fun tripling numbers can be.
  4. Quad Quentin – An adventurer who explores in groups of four, teaching the power and pattern of multiplying by four.
  5. Fiona Five – A star performer who counts by fives to keep her rhythm, making multiplication by five a musical journey.
  6. Sixto Six – A soccer star who scores goals in sixes, demonstrating how multiplying by six can be a goal-scoring feat.
  7. Sammy Seven – A scientist who discovers new things in groups of seven, exploring the world through the lens of multiplying by seven.
  8. Octavia Eight – An octopus painter who creates art with eight brushes at a time, showing the creativity of multiplying by eight.
  9. Nina Nine – A magician who performs tricks with nines, revealing the magic of multiplying by nine.
  10. Tenny Ten – A decathlete who competes in ten different sports, illustrating the ease of multiplying by ten.
  11. Elly Eleven – A curious explorer who loves to adventure in elevens, taking us on journeys through the multiples of eleven.
  12. Dozen Dave – A chef who bakes in batches of twelve, sharing the delicious possibilities of multiplying by twelve.
  • Crafting a Display: Set up a colorful ladder display in your classroom. Each rung represents a milestone in mastering a set of multiplication facts. As students demonstrate proficiency in a multiplication table, they get to move their character (or a token representing them) up the ladder.

Engaging Activities and Reinforcement

  • Character Diaries: Have students maintain a diary or journal from the perspective of their favorite multiplication character. They can narrate how the character helped them solve a real-life problem using multiplication.
  • Multiplication Theater: Once a month, organize a multiplication play where students act out scenarios featuring their characters overcoming obstacles using multiplication.
  • Character-Based Problem Sets: Create problem sets that involve the characters in various scenarios. For instance, “Timmy Two needs to help the baker double his recipe for a big party. How many cups of flour will he need if the original recipe calls for 3 cups?”

Chant Multiplication Facts With Students

Timmy Two’s Doubling Chant

(To the tune of “B-I-N-G-O”)

Two times one is two, oh! Two times two is four, yo! Two times three is six, glow! Double, double, Timmy Two! Two times four is eight, bright! Two times five is ten, light! Two times six is twelve, night! Double, double, Timmy’s right!

Trio Tess’s Tripling Tune

(To the tune of “Three Blind Mice”)

Three times one is three, Trio Tess, Three times two is six, no stress, Three times three is nine, yes, yes, Tripling with Tess. Three times four is twelve, see how they run, Three times five is fifteen, isn’t this fun? Three times six is eighteen, almost done, Tripling with Tess.

Quad Quentin’s Quadruple Quest

(To the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”)

Four times one is four, gently down the stream, Four times two is eight, life is but a dream. Four times three is twelve, with Quentin we team, Multiplying by four, a quadruple beam. Four times four is sixteen, rowing through the lore, Four times five is twenty, adventures galore. Four times six is twenty-four, opening new doors, With Quentin, explore, multiplication’s core.

Fiona Five’s Fabulous Five

(To the tune of “Jingle Bells”)

Five times one is five, five times two’s ten, Five times three is fifteen, sing it once again. Five times four is twenty, keep up if you can, Five times five is twenty-five, Fiona leads the band. Oh! Five times six is thirty, multiplication’s alive, Five times seven’s thirty-five, with Fiona we thrive. Keep the rhythm, keep the jive, Fiona Five’s high five, Counting by fives, we dive, making learning come alive!

Use Visuals

The importance of providing visuals, such as anchor charts, in the classroom cannot be overstated, especially when teaching foundational concepts like multiplication and division. These visual aids serve as constant, accessible reminders of the learning material, enabling students to independently recall and apply key concepts during activities and problem-solving sessions.

Anchor charts, specifically, cater to visual learners and reinforce memory retention by breaking down complex ideas into simple, digestible visuals. They also support a language-rich environment, offering students vocabulary and strategies that are always within sight.

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Singing Through Transitions: Making Every Moment Count

Incorporating music and song into daily transitions is not only a fun way to keep the energy up but also reinforces learning. Multiplication songs, especially those that are catchy and repetitive, stick in students’ minds, making it easier for them to recall facts when needed.

  • Morning Routine: Start each day with a multiplication song related to the week’s focus character. It’s a joyful way to reinforce the facts and set a positive tone for the day.
  • Clean-Up Songs: Turn clean-up and transition time into a learning moment with multiplication songs. Play a song as students tidy up, challenging them to complete the task before the song ends.
  • YouTube Songs: Don’t hesitate to use resources like Mr. DeMaio’s multiplication songs as part of your curriculum. These videos can be a great homework assignment or a fun classroom activity. (My students LOVED them!)

The Impact

Remember, the goal is to build confidence and competence in our students, turning them into lifelong learners and problem solvers. Let’s make math memorable!


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