Multiplication skills become a part of the life of school age children around third grade. At this time, teachers begin to request that students memorize their multiplication tables which takes considerable effort by students, teachers and parents. Once the concept of multiplication is taught and students understand the process of multiplication as repeated addition, at some point work, they work on memorizing the facts for easy recall. Learning multiplication tables becomes a huge obstacle for some students that lack the opportunity, desire or skill to memorize easily. Engaging activities can help these students be more successful learning the multiplication tables.
Have students create an illustrated book of the facts. The illustrations can help students form a mental picture of the fact and remember it. Have them create a mini-book for each of the multiplication tables as a learning center or independent activity. Give students an example illustration. Show them that an illustration of a multiplication number sentence shows a number of groups with a given number of items in each group. For example, to draw three multiplied by two, students might draw three circles with two apples in each circle. Instruct students to include the fact equation with the answer, a sentence stating the fact in words and an illustration that shows the fact as a set of groups having the same number of members in each group for each fact of the multiplication table on which they work.
Many children enjoy and are motivated by competitions. Show students the multiplication tables, pointing out that the answers are the numbers you say when skip-counting by the number by which you multiply. Give students copies of the multiplication tables to study independently in class or at home. Inform students that the class will have a contest during which all students can be winners if they successfully memorize the multiplication tables you require. To keep the interest of struggling students, run the contest in increments of three times tables. Each Friday, hold a timed test to see who has successfully memorized the three times tables required that week. For those successful, offer a reward such as eating lunch with the teacher and a small treat. The following week, those students that succeeded the week prior move on to the next level and those that did not get to try again. Offer a larger bonus reward to students that master all the fact tables.
Have students compete in games as a way to motivate them in learning the multiplication tables. Once students understand the concept of multiplication, working to memorize the tables helps them be more successful with more-complicated multiplication problems. Adapt simple games, such as the child's card game, War, to use multiplication. Students shuffle and divide the deck, then flip over two cards, multiply them and determine the student with the higher product who keeps the cards and play continues. The child's memory game of turning over upside down cards to find matches also works for multiplication. Provide cards with the equations and others with the product. Students lay the cards upside-down, then take turns flipping two cards over to find matches of equations and products.
King and Queen Bee
Conduct a multiplication bee in the same way you might conduct a spelling bee each week. Rather than asking students to spell a word, ask them the answer to a multiplication table problem. If correct, the student stays in but if not, the student returns to a practice activity, such as a worksheet or computer-based practice to help him learn the tables. Each week, crown a multiplication King Bee and Queen Bee. Have these students help others with learning the tables in the week that follows. Offer students a king or queen badge to wear so students know who to go to for assistance.
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