Do your kids struggle with understanding multiplication? If you're able to build a solid foundation, multiplication doesn't have to be a struggle. Kids as young as first grade can be introduced to the concept in fun, hands-on ways, preparing them for learning and memorizing facts later. This hands-on activity introduces adding equal groups to prepare kids for mastering multiplication.

#### Start by Forming Connections:

One way that math is learned and mastered is when kids are able to form connections. This could be connections to themselves, the real world, or other math they know. By connecting something knew to something known, they are deepening their comprehension.

So before jumping into multiplication vocabulary and brand new math symbols, I suggest starting with something familiar and building on it: repeated addition.

After reviewing repeated addition with groups of equal parts, you can then show the connection to multiplication.

That's the goal of this simple hands-on multiplication activity.

While this is intended for first or second grade kids just being introduced to multiplication, you can certainly use this to get back to basics with older kids who are struggling.

## Introduction to Multiplication

This resource does require a little prep before you're able to use it, but you can then store it to refer back to again and again.

First, I suggest you print and laminate all pages of the download. This includes 3 building mats and "equal groups" objects for kids to manipulate.

Then you'll need to cut out the groups of objects. You could possibly let your kids help with this, if they're good with scissors. :)

Then you're ready to explore addition and multiplication with equal groups!

## How to Use the Equal Groups Mats:

Use the first mat to simply review repeated addition. Kids can choose a collection of groups to place on their mat, then write an addition equation to find the total in the set.

Be sure they are choosing equal groups, not mixing and matching. For example, they can choose as many groups as they like, as long as the same objects are in each. 6 groups of pencils or 3 groups of bugs, etc.
I intentionally used different pictures for each group, so you can easily say, "Don't mix pencils and bugs, or footballs and fish." So hopefully, they will easily see that each group has an equal number of objects.
Then as you work with them, talk about it as equal groups, not merely addition. Ask questions such as, "How many groups of footballs did you make?" or "How many bugs are in each group?"

After they've had a chance to play with it and create their own problems, you can write addition sentences for them, and ask them to build it with pictures.

For example, you might write, "2+2+2+2=" and let them add 4 sets of apples on the mat and then solve the addition problem.

Once they are comfortable, you can move onto the second mat, which reinforces the equal groups concept and prepares them for writing multiplication sentences rather than repeated addition.

You can use the second mat in the same way, but this time they will write how many groups and how many objects are in each group. Then they are to find the total.

Once they can do this with no problems (without confusing the number of groups with the number of objects) you can move onto writing multiplication equations to solve.

When they're ready, you can use the third mat, which again asks for the number of groups and number of objects in each, but then has them write it as a multiplication equation.

## Understanding Multiplication:

As they begin to use sets of equal groups to form a connection between addition and multiplication, they will begin to understand that multiplication is a faster way to add. They will form a solid foundation so that when they see other representations of multiplication, they'll know right away what operation to use to solve.

So I hope that you find this to be a useful resource as you play with numbers, explore abstract math concepts in a hands-on way and build a solid foundation for your kids.

And if you're interested in learning more about math teaching resources from Math Geek Mama, explore membership options here.

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### >> Download Introduction to Multiplication <<

Bethany is the mom behind the blog, Math Geek Mama, a website dedicated to making math fun and engaging, while building a strong conceptual understanding of mathematics. When she's not playing with numbers, she is exploring with her four little ones, drinking way too much coffee, or soaking up the chaos of everyday life. Follow along on FacebookInstagramPinterest, and Twitter.
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##### Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is a homeschooling mother of six who strives to enjoy every moment with her kids through hands-on learning, crafts, new experiences, and lots of playing together. Beth is also the creator and author of 123 Homeschool 4 Me where she shares 1000+ free printables, creative homeschool lessons, crafts, and other fun ideas to help preschool and homeschooling families have fun while learning and exploring together.