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 Interactive Multiplication Mats are a great way to begin that process.
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 using these Interactive Multiplication Mats, 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.
Multiplication Games for Kids
Looking for more… here are some of our other favorite Multiplication Games for Kids:
- Apple Picking Multiplication Game
- Deck of Cards: Multiplication
- Don’t Get Caught Fishy Multiplication Game
- Hopscotch Multiplication Practice
- Hot Chocolate Math: Multiplication & Division
- Leap Frog Multiplication game
- Multiplication Mini Book
- Skip Counting Visuals for Kids
Download Interactive Multiplication Mats
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