Elementary Multiplication Help: Math Practice for Struggling Students

Kids typically learn multiplication in third grade and continue working on it through the rest of elementary school. Since multiplication will be used in all future math classes, give your students many opportunities to practice multiplication facts using some of the ideas here.

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Ideas for Practicing Multiplication

If your students are struggling, you'll want to know why. It may be simply that they feel overwhelmed by the large number of facts in the multiplication table. But it may also be because they don't fully know how or why to do addition or subtraction. When you're confident that they can do addition and subtraction easily and with comprehension, you can focus on multiplication.

Flash Cards

Does the idea of flash cards produce a groan from the students? Turning it into a type of 'math bee' can make it more fun. Have your students stand up and solve multiplication problems on flashcards out loud. When students answer incorrectly, they return back to their desks. The winner of the 'math bee' is the last student standing.

Alternatively, if your classroom has access to computers, you can find flash-card practice on the Internet. You also can use flash cards to admit students to the classroom. At the door, hold up a flash card suitable to the student's ability and in the range you're working on. Students must give the answer in order to enter.

A twist to using flash cards is to use name tags with multiplication problems on them. Each student's tag is a unique problem. During that day, the students' names aren't used. Instead, the answer to the problem they're wearing is their name for the day.


Songs that teach the multiplication table may be found on sing-along CDs, such as Hap Palmer's Multiplication Mountain. Disney offers a DVD on multiplication as part of their Schoolhouse Rock series, which also may be found on YouTube.com. Additionally, your students can have fun making up their own multiplication songs.


Although students may be excited to know how to read, they don't outgrow enjoying stories being read to them. Multiplication in a Flash by Alan Walker offers stories (as well as pictures and activities) for helping teach multiplication facts. Barrington and the Math Princess by Roxanne Eckenrode is a story using silly mnemonics to help learn the multiplication facts.


Around the Circle

Even learning the multiplication table can be fun if students are playing a game. Have all but one student sit in a circle. The standing child stands behind a student sitting in the circle.

You hold up a flashcard, and the two students who are sitting and standing next to each other give the answer as quickly as possible. If the winner is the sitting student, the two students trade places. The child now standing goes to the next student in the circle. You can keep playing until one student goes around the whole circle. Then, the next time you play, divide the class into two circles and allow the 'big winner' to hold the flashcards for one of them.


A tag game with two teams can also be fun. You'll need two sets of flashcards on a table at the front of the room. Teams stand in a line.

When you say 'go,' the first student in each line runs to the table, reads the problem on the card at the top of the stack, shouts the answer, picks up the card and shows both sides to his or her team. If the answer was correct, the student puts the card in a 'discard' pile; if the answer was wrong, the flashcard goes to the bottom of the pile. The child then runs back and tags the next person on the team, who repeats the process. The first team to run out of cards is the winner.

A variety of games to be played by individuals or small groups may be found on the Internet. You can also find reproducibles for puzzles, multiplication Bingo and other games on the Web.


If a worksheet is timed, a student can keep track and compare one worksheet time and accuracy with another. At the end of a unit, week, month or quarter, you can give prizes for those who improved - hopefully that will be everyone!

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

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