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 group on Facebook. Here are 30 of our favorite fun, hands-on ways to teach multiplication to your elementary school students.
1. Flip bottle caps.
SOURCE: Croft’s Classroom
Start with bottle tops and colored dot stickers. Write a multiplication sentence on one dot and put it on top of the bottlecap. Write the answer on a second dot and put it on the bottom of the bottlecap. Then have students get in a group and lay all the tops with the multiplication sentence showing. They take turns, say the sentence aloud, and have to answer before turning the top over to check. If they get it right, they keep the top. If they get it wrong, 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
Have your students play multiplication war with a deck of cards. Just flip two cards and multiply. Whoever has the highest product keeps the cards. I also make students give me the inverse division problem. —Stacy M.
3. Have a back-to-back challenge.
Two students stand back to back and each writes a factor on the whiteboard (you can set a number limit, usually 1–9). A “caller” then announces the product. The two students have to try to solve the other’s factor, knowing their own factor and the product. The student who guesses correctly first stays and a new student takes the other’s space. Whoever wins three rounds in a row gets to be the new caller. This is typically a game for the entire class. —Carrie J.
4. Play a round of baseball multiplication.
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 turns 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 dominoes.
We use dominoes for multi-digit problems. Take two dominoes and line them up horizontally. That becomes the students’ problem. For example, let’s say one 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 then multiplies the number. The player with the highest product wins a point. They also love to play Multiplication Top-It. Using a deck of regular cards, 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.
I take a homemade deck of small cards with single numbers on them. I place down two cards at a time. The student that can find the product of the two cards and softly slap the table first wins the two cards. The winner is the one with the most cards. —Jo H.
9. Draw Waldorf multiplication flowers.
These are an artistic way to teach 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, labeling 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 ways to teach 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, multiplies the two numbers together, then looks for the product on the board. The student then 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 solve the product and cover that number with a bean or tile. Students can make their own cards using the backside of any paper and filling it with numbers. That way they can all be different, and the students 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 flashcards.
Have 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 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 to spare, they can practice. They take a lot of pride in them as the cards aren’t just another set of flashcards. —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 the real-world, we made array cities. Students have to make at least three buildings, use rulers to draw straight lines, and write the multiplication facts. I was clearly able to see which students 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 to teach multiplication with towers. 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 write multiplication equations on each. 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 face 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. Teach 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 allowing students to get as creative as they want when they decorate their plates.
24. Play Multiplication Roll and Bump
SOURCE: This Reading Mama
Download free game boards, each with a multiplier in the heading (for example, x 4). Roll two die, add them together, then multiply by the multiplier. Then place your game piece over that answer. If another player also comes up with the same product, they can “bump” your game piece off and replace it with their own. The player with the most markers on the board at the end of the game wins.
25. Use LEGO bricks.
SOURCE: Math Geek Mama
Use LEGOs to build equal groups (for example, “Show me 4 groups of 4” ) Or use them to make arrays (Show me 5 rows of 3 each). LEGO bricks are also a great way to model area if you use each little bumps on the top of the brick as one unit. Check out the blog above for more ideas.
26. Make spinners.
SOURCE: Super Fun Printables
The multiplication spinners shown above are available for purchase, but your students can also make their own. All you need is card stock, scissors, brass fasteners, and a Sharpie. Cut two identical circles out of the card stock, and one additional circle about one-fourth of the size. Cut two notches, one on each side, out of one of the bigger circles. On the small circle write the number you are multiplying (for instance, x11). On the circle without the notches write the numbers 1-12 and directly across from each number the product you get when you multiply that number by the factor (for example 2 and directly across 22). Students practice by rotating the top circle over the bottom circle.
27. Make pattern circles.
SOURCE: Learn in Color
For younger learners, use these circles to practice skip counting as a way to teach multiplication by twos, threes, or fives.
28. Use your fingers.
SOURCE: Create a Learning Environment
Teach your students the “tricky” way to multiply by nine using this fun model. For example, if the problem is 9 x 6, they count six fingers from the left and put the sixth finger down. The answer is shown on their fingers! The number of fingers to the left of the finger that is down is the number of tens and the number of fingers to the right of the finger that is down is the number of ones. So the answer is 54.
29. Play Multiplication Jenga!
SOURCE: Minds in Bloom
Use a marker to write multiplication problems on each of the 54 blocks in a standard Jenga game. (Or alternatively, download this free template and tape a problem to each block). Students play the game by first stacking all of the blocks in a tower, then taking turns pulling out one block at a time. The object of the game is to remove blocks without having the whole tower collapse. The twist in this version is, each student must successfully solve the multiplication problem on their block in order to keep it. When the tower does eventually fall, the player with the most blocks wins.
30. Play Twister!
Your students will love this twisted version of an old favorite! Write multiplication problems on each dot of the spinner and write the corresponding products in the circles on the mat. Then have the students take turns playing. For example, the first student might spin and land on 4×5. They must then find, and place a hand or foot on, the number 20.
Plus, check out our pool noodle multiplication tutorial.