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Hands-On Introduction to Multiplication

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 Introduction to Multiplication introduces adding equal groups to prepare kids for mastering multiplication.

Hands on Introduction to Multiplication Activity - this is such a great way to teach kids about multiplication with hands on math activity (first grade, grade 1, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, homeschool, math activity)

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.


Before jumping into multiplication vocabulary, I suggest starting with something familiar and building on it: repeated addition. After reviewing repeated addition with groups of equal parts, 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 Hands-On Introduction to Multiplication 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.

Adding equal groups picture sets

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!

Adding equal groups practice mat

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.

Adding Equal Groups

When they are comfortable, you can move onto the second mat.  The second mat reinforces the equal groups concept and prepares them for writing multiplication sentences. Use this as the first, but this time 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, you can move onto writing multiplication equations to solve. When they’re ready, you can use the third mat. The third mat again asks for the number of groups and number of objects in each, but also has them write it as a multiplication equation.

multiplication practice

Understanding Multiplication:

Once they see the connection between addition and multiplication, they will understand that multiplication is a faster. 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.


Don’t miss all our free 2nd grade worksheets and our other printable worksheets for prek-12th grade students.  We have free printable math worksheetsenglish worksheets, history for kids, cool science experiments, and even fun activities for kids to go with every season and holiday throughout the year!

Adding equal groups cover

Download Hands-On Introduction to Multiplication

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About the author

Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com and www.preschoolplayandlearn.com

1 Comment

  • Thank you so much for making this a free resource ❤️ it’s an absolutely brilliant idea and I can’t wait to use it with my girls 4 and 6.

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