Easy Ways to Teach a 3rd Grader Multiplication Tables

Most children learn multiplication tables, also known as times tables, in 3rd grade. If you are helping your child with math at home, here are several ways to teach multiplication tables.

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How Can I Help My Child Learn Multiplication Tables?

Start with Visual Learning

Early on, teach your child that anything multiplied by zero equals zero (8 x 0 = 0) and anything multiplied by one equals itself (8 x 1 = 8). Your child should be introduced to the multiplication tables before beginning the following activity.

Start with an empty egg carton. Show your child that you're going to add 4 + 4 + 4, and put four dry beans in three sections of your egg carton. Ask your child to tell you the total number of beans. Tell her that instead of adding, she can find out how many objects there are by multiplying.

Then write '3 x 4 = ?' on a piece of paper. Explain that the problem can be read as '3 times 4' or '3 groups of 4,' and point this out on her egg carton. Repeat with several other problems.

Use Stories

Once you've introduced the idea of multiplication, illustrated stories about numbers and multiplication are a good way to continue. You can make up a story yourself, or you can use one of several books.

  • Times Tables the Fun Way: Book for Kids: A Picture Method of Learning the Multiplication Facts by Judy Liautaud and Dave Rodriguez
  • Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables: Fast, Fun & Easy with Dazzling Patterns, Grids & Tricks! by Eugenia Francis
  • Corkscrew Counts: A Story about Multiplication by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Pull-the-Tab Times Tables Book by Vivien Head

Encourage your child to make his own multiplication stories or poems. Here's a sample poem to help you get started:

Three trees on a hillside were blowing in the wind.
Three trees in a valley were standing straight and tall.
Three trees in the city often brought a grin.
Three groups of three trees give you nine in all.

Once you have a story or poem, draw pictures to illustrate it. Let your child draw his own pictures of the story. If he made up his own stories, he'll especially enjoy being the illustrator as well as author.

Teach with Songs

Make up your own songs with your child. You can always search the Internet for multiplication songs.YouTube.com is a good source. The following CDs also offer multiplication music for children.

  • Multiplication: Great for Multilevel Learners: Ages 7-12 by Twin Sisters Productions
  • Multiplication by Heart by Math by Heart
  • Multiplication: Classical Math to Classical Music by Sing 'n Learn
  • Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer
  • Multiplication Unplugged by Sara Jordan
  • We Don't Cry, We Multiply by Mr. G & the Kiddie Crunk Crew

Incorporate Other Activities

You can always use flashcards to reinforce what your child has learned, but there are other ways for her to practice that are more fun and engaging. Ask her to act out multiplication stories, word problems or songs. Search online for multiplication cross-number puzzles, which are like crossword puzzles for math, or take advantage of free computer games for multiplication practice. There are also board games you can purchase or print out for free on the Internet.

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