3rd Grade Multiplication Made Easy

By third grade, most students find addition quite easy, but multiplication sounds too hard. You can make it easy and fun by using a variety of approaches.

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Ideas for Teaching Multiplication to Third Graders

Children have different learning styles, so you will want to choose several ways to present multiplication concepts - visually, orally and kinesthetically. As with all learning, repetition in multiplication is key.

Stars and Circles

Begin with a problem such as 2 x 3 = ?. Read the problem as 'two groups of three equals what?' Draw two circles and tell the class that these are the two groups in the problem. Put three stars in each circle, and equate them to the three in the problem. Have students count the stars, and replace the question mark with a six. Reverse the problem to three groups of two to demonstrate that, either way, the answer is six.

Once they have this idea, use other numbers - even zero and one. If you have any number of circles with nothing in them, you can show that any number time zero is zero. With any number of circles with one in it, they can visualize that any number times one is the same as the 'any number.'

Egg Cartons and Macaroni

Each child will need an egg carton and as many pieces of macaroni as the highest answer for the problems you will give them. You then do the same thing as you did with circles and stars. Read the problems both as 'Two groups of three equals what?' and 'Two times three equals what?' Then, have the students work independently to visualize the problem using the macaroni. For example, for the problem 2 x 3, two of the egg carton cups should be filled with three macaronis.

Graph Paper

Give each child a piece of graph paper and a multiplication problem, which they should write on their paper. Then, ask them to demonstrate the answer by coloring in the proper number of squares grouped according to the problem given.

Old Fashioned Memorization with Pop-up Contests

A multiplication table may be in the math book you use. If not, you can make one on graph paper. The table can be used to help memorize memorize the math facts.

After the children have learned certain multiplication facts, you can help them with speed. Read the problem orally, and whoever knows the answer quickly stands up. You call on the first one up and he or she gives the answer.

Another way to play this game is to give each child 3x5 note cards with large numbers on them, each card should have an answer to one of the questions you will ask. Divide the class into groups or teams. State the problem. Give them a certain number of seconds; when time is up, say, 'Now!' Each child raises the correct 3x5 so you can see the answer. Each correct answer counts for a point for that team. As they get better at knowing the answers, reduce the number of seconds.

Music as the Teacher

There are many CDs that put math facts to music in a song. Just having the CD playing softly when the children are coming into the classroom or getting ready to leave may teach them a great deal. However, singing a song as you teach corresponding facts will help more. After they've learned some facts through music, have them apply this knowledge through speed drills - such as the pop-up contests.

Rhymes and Stories

Like the music, rhymes can help kids remember facts through repetition and rhythm. Make up your own rhymes and stories or have the kids help you in class. For example:

Three groups of ten kids got their shoes dirty,
Imagine that, that meant there were 30!

Four groups of eight got their shoes dirty, too.
For goodness sakes, that was 32.

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