22 Fun, Hands-On Ways to Teach Multiplication

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teach multiplication

What’s the best way to teach multiplication? The answer is different for every student. That’s why we were excited to see so many great ideas being shared on our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE Facebook group. Here are 22 of our favorites.


1. Start by talking about things that come in groups.

Two legs on a chicken, for example, five fingers on a hand, etc. Go up to 12. Then make groups with counters on small paper plates—three plates, two counters on each. Write 3 groups of 2, then 3×2, etc. Have them get the concept before working on facts. —Merry  P.

2. Gather big groups of similar objects.

I want the kids to know what 100, 1,000, 10,000 and so on looks like so I have them collect pull tabs from pop cans. I’ve also had them collect paper clips and popcorn. —Patricia F.

3. Make arrays.

In second grade we teach arrays using Cheerios! – Abbie T

Other items to use for arrays: paper clips, pretzels, M&Ms, crayons, tiles, blocks, buttons, popcorn kernels, rice, washers, chocolate chips, pom-poms, cheese balls, jewels, Smarties, pennies, raisins, pistachios, lentils, counters, Lego bricks …


4. Play an easy bottle top game.

I collected bottle tops and bought some colored dot stickers at The Dollar Tree. Put one dot on top for the multiplication sentence and one dot on the inside of the top with the product! I use it as a center game. Students lay all the tops with the multiplication sentence showing. They take turns and have to say the sentence and the answer before turning the top over to check their answer. If they get it right, then they keep the top. If they get it wrong, then they put it back. Whoever has the most at the end wins! —Jasmine A.

5. Try multiplication war.

We LOVE multiplication war with a deck of cards. Just flip two cards and multiply. Whoever has the highest product keeps the cards. I also make them give me the inverse division problem. —Stacy M.


6.Have a back to back challenge.

We played multiplication back to back! Two students stand back to back and each writes a factor on the white board (you can set limit, usually 1-9) and a “caller” announces the product. The two students have to try to solve the others factor, knowing their factor and the product. The person who wins stays and the next class member takes the other space. Whoever wins 3 rounds In a row gets to be the new caller. This is typically a whole class game.


7. Play a round of baseball.

Use one set of multiplication flashcards to play math baseball in the classroom. Put a flashcard down on the floor in a path. Kids take turn hopping on the cards saying the answer and see how far can they get. Stop when they make a mistake and see who gets the furthest. —Sunny S.


8. Put a new twist on an old favorite

We play rock paper scissors but they put up fingers instead of rock, paper scissors. The first partner to multiply the two sets of fingers together gets a point. —Maura L.


9. Line up some dominoes.

We use dominoes for multi-digit problems. For example, take two dominoes. Line them up horizontally and that’s their problem. A 2 and 3 on one, and a 5 and 2 on the other would be 23×52. —Caroline P.

10. Circle them up.

There’s a game called Countdown (or Buzz) that helps the kids practice skip counting. They circle up and you set a number and range (skip count by 5 up to 50) the student who says 50 is out and you keep going until there’s only 1 left standing. —Matt S.


11. Practice Vegas style.

I love to use a deck of regular cards to play Multiplication Top-It (kids draw 2 cards as factors and multiply; highest product wins the hand). Dice are also good to play Multiplication Roll ‘Em, a similar game. —Zarina M.

12. Play a game of Slap.

We play a game called Slap. I have made small cards with single numbers on them. I place down 2 cards at a time. The student that can answer with the correct answer wins the 2 cards. For example, one card with an 8, one card with a 7. Student slaps (softly) the table and answers 56 wins the cards. The winner is the one with the most cards. —Jo H.


13. Call out those bingo numbers!

We play times table bingo. Students all have different cards, each with times table answers. You call multiplication problems, for example 7×9… they figure it out and cover that number. Kids can make their own cards using the backside of any paper. Even have the kids help fill in the numbers. That way they can all be different and the kids take pride in helping to create a game for you! —Dawn B.


14. Repurpose an everyday item.

Use an egg carton and write a number in the bottom of each depression.  Put a marble inside. Students shake it up and whatever two numbers they land on they multiply together. —Cami B.


15. Make your own flash cards.

I attended a brain-based learning workshop about 6 years ago and one of the main things that stuck with me was having students put an artistic drawing to their flashcard answers so the brain makes a connection between the answer and the drawing. I teach fourth grade and the last two years the kids have been very eager to make the cards (at home). They keep them in their binders so that any time we have five minutes they can practice. They take a lot of pride in them so they aren’t just another set of flashcards. —Jen W.


16. Practice with Whisper Drills.

We also do>whisper drills any time we are going somewhere in the halls. We have designated stops (like traffic stops) the kids see how many facts they and their partner can get right between stops. —Jen W.


17. Make a deck of triangle flash cards.

They’re great—kids can make their own for the multiplication facts that continue to be difficult for them! —Ann-Marie H.  
Here are some great examples.

18. Construct Array Cities.

To help students understand arrays in a real world way, we made Array Cities.Students had to make at least 3 buildings, use rulers to make straight lines, and write the multiplication facts. I was really able to see who understood the concept, and I love how they turned out! —Melissa A. 

19. Make Math Power Towers.

You write a problem on the outside of the cup, then inside you write the answer.  If the student gets the answer correct, they may begin making a tower.  Each time a correct answer is given, they add to the stack. This can be done with partners or individual for early finishers. Pringles cans are great for storing.” —Angie P.
See examples: http://bit.ly/1XqZKVL

20. Other ideas for manipulatives you can make to help with independent practice:


21. Practice online.

Here is a giant list of our favorite math websites. You’re going to love these!

22. Sing to learn.

Our community members love Schoolhouse Rock! and you can find more sing-along videos here

For even more great ideas on how to teach multiplication, check out our math operations Pinterest board.

Elizabeth Mulvahill

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a Writer/ Editor for WeAreTeachers and a certified Elementary Teacher.

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