As a third grade teacher, I feel like one of my top responsibilities is helping my students master their multiplication facts. When they go to 4th grade without knowing their facts, they start to struggle in math. It takes them so much longer to solve two and three-digit multiplication problems, because they’re still using their fingers to multiply. These are the things that work the best in my classroom for multiplication mastery.
Multiplication Mastery Tips for Your Classroom
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Of all my math units, multiplication is the one where my students’ abilities are the most different. Some students come in knowing all of their basic facts. Others haven’t even heard the word “multiplication” before. I use guided math to differentiate my math lessons and meet all my students’ needs. My multiplication guided math unit challenges my high students and provides lots of support for my strugglers.
Tip #1 – Choose a way to track your students’ progress.
I used to use timed tests to assess my students’ mastery of the multiplication facts. All the students started at 0’s, and as they passed a level, they added an ice cream scoop to a cone on a bulletin board in the classroom. At the end of the year, we had an ice cream party.
That method was very time-consuming. I had to copy the tests, score them, and keep track of who passed each level.
Now, I use XtraMath to track my students’ progress. It gives them a pretest to see what they already know about multiplication. That way, students who already know their facts don’t have to start back at 0. They do XtraMath at their technology center each day and work through it at their own pace. They get a prize when they pass multiplication and move right on to division.
Tip #2 – Start by teaching strategies for multiplication.
Sometimes it’s tempting to jump right into memorizing multiplication facts. However, students need to know how multiplication works before they can memorize the facts. Using strategies, like arrays, repeated addition, skip counting, the distributive property, and multiplication tables helps your students understand multiplication. Once they know the strategies, they can figure out the answers faster and begin memorizing the facts.
Tip #3 – Use music to help them learn the mulitplication facts.
For my students, singing their multiplication facts has really helped them remember the answers. We start each math class with a quick multiplication song. Everyone sings along, and just like they remember the lyrics to songs on the radio, they also remember the lyrics to the multiplication songs.
There are some of our favorites:
- Schoolhouse Rock (Yes, it’s been around since before I was in elementary school, but the kids still love it!)
- Mr. DeMaio Multiplication Songs
- Multiplication Mash Up
Tip #4 – Play multiplication games.
Making memorizing the multiplication facts fun will help your students remember them. My students love playing multiplication games! I put them at their problem solving center, and they play when they finish their performance tasks.
My students still love the game “Around the World”. I remember playing it in my fourth grade classroom, and I always begged my teacher to play. That hasn’t changed. My students want to play it every single day.
These are some of our other favorite multiplication games:
There are also lots of fun multiplication games online.
My students also love doing an Unlock the Box Mystery to review their multiplication facts. They enjoy working together to solve the clues and get a special prize.
Tip #5 – Make flashcard rings.
Once your students have mastered some of the multiplication facts, have them make flashcard rings. We use XtraMath to see which facts they still need to practice. Then, the students write the multiplication problems on cards. I love these flash cards that are already hole punched and come with a few rings.
I attach these to my students’ backpacks at the end of the day, and they practice for 5 minutes each night. When they come back in the morning, they attach them to the metal part of their chairs. Then, they practice with parent volunteers and partners when they have a few minutes.
Learn about how to start using guided math in your classroom.
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What Do You Think?
How do you help your students master their multiplication facts?
Let me know in the comments below.
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