Teaching Multiplication Facts: Strategies and Sample Problems

'Multiplication facts' are presented in 'multiplication tables.' Since children have different learning styles, and because each child may learn in various ways depending on the topic, more than one teaching strategy is generally needed to teach multiplication facts. Here are some approaches for teachers and homeschooling parents.

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Strategies for Teaching Multiplication Tables

A traditional way to teach multiplication is by rote. This method may only be effective for some students. Other approaches include using worksheets, stories, rhymes, pictures, music and games.

Rote Memory

When teaching by rote, it's good to reduce the sheer quantity of facts to be learned by presenting four rules:

  1. Commutative or reflexive property of multiplication (tall x short = short x tall)
  2. Any number times 0 is always 0. Sample: 10 x 0 = 0
  3. Any number multiplied by 1 equals itself. Sample: 7 x 1 = 7
  4. Any number multiplied by 10 is that number followed by a 0. Sample: 5 x 10 = 50

These rules reduce the number of facts to be learned to 36. Many of these remaining facts are easier to learn with four patterns:

  1. Doubling a number is the same as multiplying it by 2. Sample: 2 x 8 = 8 + 8 = 16
  2. Doubling a number and then doubling its answer is the same as multiplying by 4. Sample: 4 x 8 = (8 + 8 = 16) and (16 + 16 = 32)
  3. When you multiply by 5, the answer will end with either 5 or 0. Sample: 3 x 5 = 15
  4. Multiplying a number by 10 and then subtracting the number is the same as multiplying by 9. Sample: 9 x 8 = (10 x 8) - 8 = 80 - 8 = 72


Worksheets have many uses, such as:

  • Pre- and post-tests for teaching groups of facts
  • Practice problems to aid memory
  • Speed tests to facilitate quick recall of facts


Stories like Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander may be used to introduce multiplication and how it can be used in 'real life.' Books like Breakfast at Danny's Diner: A Book about Multiplication by Judith Stamper are useful vehicles for practicing multiplication facts.


When information is given through rhythm and rhyme, it may be more easily remembered, especially if you can add motions. Students can make up their own rhymes, or you can use these:

I'm good, I'm fine
7 x 7 = 49

Even short 'sayings' can bring up a fact:

7 San Diego Chargers blocked 7 San Francisco 49ers


Pictures can help some students learn multiplication facts. For example, a 9 can be drawn as a circular sign post.

Quite often, books combine pictures, stories and rhymes. Some examples include:

  • Times Tales by Jennie Von Eggers, M. J. Flanagan and Dena Wood
  • Times Tables the Fun Way! by Judy Liautaud and Dave Rodriguez
  • Memorize in Minutes: The Times Tables by Alan B. Walker


Singing multiplication songs is another strategy that helps kids to learn their facts. You can buy or download songs or videos. Some popular multiplication music includes:

  • Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication by Disney
  • Multiplication Unplugged by Sara Jordan
  • Multiplication Mountain by Hap Palmer


Your students can play math variations of games, such as tic-tac-toe, puzzles, checkers, bingo and board games. Math Games to Master Basic Skills: Multiplication & Division by Denise Kiernan includes templates for many of these games.

Interactive games can be found on CDs and websites. If your classroom is equipped with computers and Internet access, students can take turns playing games. Games range from simple, fill-in-the-blank games to very sophisticated games, such as Timez Attack (www.BigBrainz.com).

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