When you first begin to teach your kids multiplication, it’s important to focus on teaching for understanding rather than memorization. While it might be tempting to just jump to learning the facts so you can move on, that’s not going to be helpful in the long run. Instead, focus on the meaning of multiplication, multiple representations and lots of visuals. These multiplication equation mats are a great way to begin that process.

### Understanding Multiplication:

There are lots of ways to introduce your kids to multiplication and give them a solid foundation for learning. If you start by giving them a list of facts to memorize, it seems like nonsense to them. Consider, for example, if I asked you to remember these:
• A x C = Q
• B x T = Z
• S x U = R
You can look at that and immediately think, “What? That doesn’t make any sense!” But unfortunately, if we try to force kids to memorize multiplication facts, it looks just as nonsensical to them.

Multiplication is not a random set of facts or rules. It’s a logical mathematical computation that has a perfectly reasonable meaning. To help your kids see that, you can start by connecting it to something they know: repeated addition. Then you can show them helpful visuals such as arrays and area models, and how to solve problems with number lines or a hundreds chart.

The more exposure and visual models they have, the better developed their understanding will be, and then eventually “memorized facts” will come.

## Interactive Multiplication Mats

Before you begin, you will need to print all the mats in the download and laminate them. You can then cut them out and grab some dry erase markers and you’re ready to begin.

## Making Multiplication Practice Fun:

While it is certainly helpful to provide opportunities for kids to practice their multiplication facts, it does not mean that it needs to be drill, flash cards or timed tests.

Instead, find ways to provide “productive practice,” meaning there might be fewer problems to solve, but the challenge is greater and deeper.

There are lots of ways to involve kids in productive practice, and today I’m going to share a resource I created to help kids make sense of multiplication using arrays and area models.

## How to Use the Multiplication Equation Mats:

There are 2 sets of multiplication mats in this download (20 mats altogether).

The first set includes a visual model and students have to then write a multiplication equation to match the given model. This is incredibly important, because we all need visuals to form connections in our brain and really learn and internalize mathematical ideas.

This will also help kids understand that a multiplication sentence isn’t meaningless. It’s a numerical representation of the picture.

Once kids are familiar and comfortable with this, they can work on the second set of multiplication mats: the build an equation mats.

The second set reverses the challenge. This time, a multiplication problem is given, and students have to “build” it in some way in order to solve.

This can be done a variety of ways, depending on your kids and what materials you have on hand.

For a hands-on option, we used base ten blocks. But you could also use pom-poms, beads, playdough, etc. Or kids can simply draw a representation using their dry erase marker.

I highly recommend you require students to build or draw the problems, though, before moving on. Even if your child already “knows” the answer, it’s important that they can connect the problem to an accurate visual model. This will help build a foundation for larger multiplication problems in the future, as well as in Algebra.

For more fun, free and LOW PREP math practice, don't miss our 2000+ page of free math worksheets

### Multiplication Games for Kids

Looking for more... here are some of our other favorite Multiplication Games for Kids:

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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.
##### 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.