The Best Way to Teach Multiplication to Kids

According to Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, children learn in diverse ways. Some are visual learners who understand spatially by seeing. Others are auditory learners who analyze sounds. Still others are kinesthetic learners who comprehend through movement by doing things. A child may have more than one learning style, using each for different tasks. Thus, the best way to teach kids multiplication is to use different means to reach each of the various learning styles.

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Top Multiplication Teaching Practices

General Steps to Follow

Teach One Fact Family at a Time

When teaching multiplication, teach it slowly and concentrate on one fact family at a time. Students have the easiest time remembering the rule for multiplying by one. Learning how to multiply by one will be easy for kids to remember and give them instant success with multiplication.

Make Learning Easy

After learning about x1, some educators suggest a logical learning order of multiplication facts as x2 followed by x10 and x5, then x3 ( Next, they recommend x4 followed by a triad of x0, x11 and squares. The last facts in order are x9, x6, x8, x7 and x12.

Other lists are written more as rules, patterns or steps to follow. First, teach that multiplying two numbers is the same no matter what order they appear (e.g., 4 x 5 is the same as 5 x 4). Children are relieved to know that this reduces the quantity of facts to be learned by half. Next, explain to multiply a number by:

Ten: Add a zero behind the number. Example: 4 x 10 = 40
Two: Add the number to itself. Example: 3 x 2 = 3 + 3
Four: Add the number to itself, and then add that answer to itself to multiply by four. Example: 4 x 4 = (4 + 4) + (4 + 4) This process is also known as the double-double rule or doubling twice.
Five: The answer will always end in 0 or 5. Two patterns for x5 are:
1) The answer is always 1/2 of x10. Example: 5 x 8 = half of 10 x 8 = half of 80 = 40
2) It's 1/2 of the number multiplied by 10. Example: 5 x 8 = 10 x 4 = 40
Nine: Multiply the number by 10 and subtract the number. Example: 9 x 8 = (10 x 8) - 8 = 80 - 8 = 72
  • The rest of the facts need to be memorized. Rhymes and songs may be used to aid retention.

Teaching Visual Learners

Neurologists claim that all dyslexic children are visual learners, but that the converse isn't true ( Visual learners will benefit from videos and movies.

Demonstrating how multiplication works by using manipulatives is helpful to visual learners. For example, show students a group of five buttons and ask them how many buttons they would have in only one group of buttons. Then ask them how many candies there would be in two groups of five.

Color coding is beneficial to many visual learners. Use different colors to represent each number when demonstrating the multiplication patterns presented above. For example, color the number 1 red, the number 10 blue, 2 green, 4 purple, 5 yellow and 9 orange. Follow through by using these colors on flash cards to reinforce the same concepts.

Teaching Auditory Learners

The classroom 'lecture' is suitable for auditory learners. These students also learn well with partners or small groups. They'll learn by repeating multiplication facts aloud as they learn them. It may also help to read instructions out loud and whisper the steps they're following as they complete problems. Auditory learners benefit from writing a sequence of steps in sentence form and reading them aloud as a means of learning them.

Reading can be considered an auditory exercise because the same portions of the brain that process language are involved. An auditory reader, in a sense, may 'hear' the words as he or she reads. These kids also learn well when you read math stories and rhymes or sing math songs to them.

Teaching Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners do best with a variety of hands-on activities. These kids will do well if you teach them how to take notes. Allow children to perform demonstrations. Kinesthetic learners blossom with manipulatives, computer learning and games. Sometimes kinesthetic learners process information best when they can walk back and forth as they learn facts.

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