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 23 of our favorites.
1. Flip some bottle caps .
SOURCE: Croft’s Classroom
I collected bottle tops and bought some colored dot stickers at 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.
2. Play multiplication war .
SOURCE: Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
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.
3. Have a back-to-back challenge.
We practice 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 other’s factor, knowing their factor and the product. The person who wins stays and the next class member takes the other space. Whoever wins three rounds in a row gets to be the new caller. This is typically a whole-class game. —Carrie J.
4. Play a round of baseball multiplication .
Use one set of multiplication flash cards to play math baseball in the classroom. Put a flash card down on the floor in a path. Kids take turn hopping on the cards, saying the answer, and seeing how far can they get. Stop when they make a mistake and see who gets the farthest. —Sunny S.
5. Put a mathematical twist on an old favorite.
We play Roshambo, but students put up fingers instead of rock, paper, or scissors. The first partner to multiply the two sets of fingers together and call out the product gets a point. —Maura L.
6. Line up some dominoes.
We use dominoes for multi-digit problems. Take two dominoes and line them up horizontally, and that’s [the students’] problem. For instance above, the first domino has a 4 and a 2, and the second domino has a 1 and 6. So the problem would be 42×16. —Caroline P.
7. Roll ’em Vegas style.
My students love Multiplication Roll ‘Em! Each student rolls two dice and multiplies the two numbers. The player with the highest product wins a point. They also love to play Multiplication Top-It. Using a deck of regular cards to play, two students [each] draw two cards. These are their factor cards. Each student multiplies their two numbers together, and the highest product wins the hand. The player with the most cards at the end wins.—Zarina M.
8. Play a multiplication version of Slapjack.
We play a game called Slap. I have made small cards with single numbers on them. I place down two cards at a time. The student that can answer correctly wins the two cards. For example, one card with an 8, one card with a 7. Student [who] slaps (softly) the table and answers 56 wins the cards. The winner is the one with the most cards. —Jo H.
9. Draw Waldorf multiplication flowers.
These are an artistic way to practice multiplication facts. To play: Start with the center of the flower and write any number 1–9 in the center. Next, draw 12 petals around the center, labelling them 1–12. Last, draw another 12 petals and write the product of the center number and the petal adjacent to the new petal. —Courtney H.
10. Make arrays!
SOURCE: Miss Giraffe’s Class
Arrays are perfect for helping students visualize multiplication problems. —Barb K.
Note: An array is a systematic arrangement of similar objects, usually in rows and columns. Using unusual objects helps the concept stick. Fun ideas to try: 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, or LEGO bricks. Check out this fun blog for more great ideas about teaching multiplication with arrays.
11. Play Multiplication Squares.
Kids love playing the game Squares! All you need for this version is two dice, the downloadable game board, and two pens of different colors. One player rolls both dice and multiplies the two numbers together, then looks for the product on the board, and draws a line to connect any two dots that form part of the square around that product. The game continues until the board is filled with squares. —Brittney F.
12. Play bingo!
We play times-table bingo. Students all have different cards, each with times-table answers. You call multiplication problems, for example 7×9. The students figure it out and cover that number with a bean or tile. 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.
13. Repurpose an egg carton as a multiplication problem generator.
Use an egg carton and write a number in the bottom of each depression. Put two marbles inside. Students shake the egg carton, open the top, and whatever two numbers the marbles have landed on, they multiply together. —Cami B.
14. Let kids make their own multiplication facts flash cards.
I attended a brain-based learning workshop about six years ago, and one of the main things that stuck with me was having students put an artistic drawing to their flash card 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 as [the cards] aren’t just another set of flash cards. —Jen W.
15. Make a deck of fact family triangles.
They’re great—kids can make their own for the multiplication facts that continue to be difficult for them! —Ann-Marie H.
Try this version by Primary Flourish.
16. Construct array cities .
To help students understand arrays in a real-world way, we made array cities. Students had to make at least three 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.
17. Make math power towers .
SOURCE: Fabulous in Fifth
All you need is Pringles cans for storage, plastic Dixie cups, and a Sharpie. First, write a multiplication problem on the outside of a cup then write the answer inside on the bottom. If a 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 individually for early finishers. —Angie P.
18. Make these fun practice tools.
Try these fun tools in centers for independent practice or in small groups.
19. Practice multiplication online.
Here is a giant list of our favorite math websites. You’re going to love these!
20. Sing along to learn.
21. Change your students’ names (temporarily).
Source: Mr. Elementary Math
Grab some name tags and, instead of names, write out multiplication equations. Give a tag to each of your students. For the remainder of the day, everyone will refer to each other by the answer to the equation on their tag (e.g., the student with the name tag that says 7×6 would be referred to as “42”).
22. Take multiplication to the gridiron.
Source: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
All you need is poster board, 12-sided dice, and a couple of game pieces. Students move their game piece up the field by rolling the dice and multiplying the two numbers that come up. They get four chances to score a touchdown. Get the rest of the details of this fun game from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.
23. Help students memorize their multiplication facts with a simple wheel.
Source: Creative Family Fun
All it takes is paper plates, glue, and a marker to help your students learn their multiplication tables. This can also double as a craft activity: Students can get as creative as they want when when they decorate their plates.
For even more great ideas on how to teach multiplication, check out our math operations Pinterest board.
Plus, check out our pool noodle multiplication tutorial.