According to the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, students should be able to multiply two digit numbers successfully, using a variety of strategies, by the end of 4th grade. Multiplication tables are still the most common tools used for teaching multiplication, but other strategies -- such as fact houses, box methods and clockwork -- that use similar concepts can help teach more advanced strategies while keeping the lessons interesting.
The most commonly used tool for learning multiplication, the multiplication table is a visual aide that simplifies the calculation of multiplication problems. The table is a grid with sequential numbers -- usually 1 through 10 -- listed along the top with a number above each column, and again along one side with a number positioned beside each row. The number in each box represents the product of the numbers at the end of each row and column.
A fact house is a craft project that is similar in function to a multiplication table, but focuses on particular multiplication problems that students can choose themselves. Provide students with a sheet of paper with the outline of a house drawn on it. Provide them also with squares of colored paper and one piece of triangular paper that fits over the shape of the roof of the house. Have the students glue or tape the squares and triangle neatly over the outline of the house. Finally, have students write multiplication problems on the colored squares and triangle, and the answers to the problems on the sheet of paper beneath each square.
The box method is also similar to the multiplication table, and is a strategy for breaking complex problems into simpler steps. For example, to multiply 32 by 17, draw a box with four squares inside of it. Along the top of the box write 30 above one square and 2 above the second. Along one side of the box write 10 beside one square and 7 beside the next. Multiply each set of numbers: 30 X 10 = 300, 2 X 10 = 20, 30 X 7 = 210, and 2 X 7 = 14. Add the products to produce the sum of 544.
Clockwork for Multiples of 5
A clock can serve as a helpful visual aide for learning the multiples of 5. Direct students' attention to the clock on the wall and have them call out the various times of the current hour when the minute hand is on one of the large numbers. For example, when the minute hand is on the 3, it is 15 minutes past the hour. Have students acknowledge that multiples of 5 always end in a 5 or a 0.
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