I don’t know about you, but I don’t know too many students who enjoy studying their basic multiplication facts. Nonetheless, these are facts that students NEED to know; and the only way they are going to know them is by studying them and repeatedly seeing these facts over and over.
So what are some ways that teachers can make the learning process easier and less painful? Here are a few tips, for educators and parents, to help your students master those multiplication facts:
1. Make simple review games. Kids like to be entertained, and games will usually do that. Take any game – Uno, Checkers, Go Fish – and you can incorporate multiplication drills somehow. For example, if you are playing Uno, every time two number cards are played simultaneously, require the student to name their product. While playing checkers, require each player to correctly answer 2 multiplication problems to earn their turn.
2. Spend time studying with them. One of the worst things you can do is hand a child a stack of flash cards and tell them, “Go study.” Worse yet, sitting them in front of a math website and leaving them alone to practice independently. I often advise parents to use the time spent in the car, cooking dinner, commercial breaks while watching TV, and just before bedtime as opportunities to study multiplication facts with their children.
3. Homemade (or teacher-made) puzzles. It may seem simple, but creating creative and critical thinking activities involving multiplication (like the one in the photo above) will do the trick, too. I would rather work on a puzzle than sort through a stack of flash cards any day.
4. Create real-world scenarios that involve multiplication (application). Involve your kids in the decisions you make that require you to use multiplication. “We have to stop at the gas station on our way home. If gas costs $3 per gallon and we’re going to fill 9 gallons, how much money are we going to spend?”
5. Practice orally and in written formats. Variety is the spice of life, so spice up the way your kids practice their facts!
6. There’s an App for that! Did you know that there are over 500 multiplication studying/quiz apps available? Some are FREE and many are less than $1!
7. Reward them. Of course we want our kids to be intrinsically rewarded when they do well on a math test, but extrinsic rewards may work better with some youngsters. Consider giving your child a reward for each aced timed test they take at home (or reward them for every test they take at school). Create a “Multiplication Money Jar” and reward them with $1, $2 or even $5 for every 100% they earn on a test! Don’t want to give monetary rewards? You can also give “No Chores” passes, trips to the ice cream store, time allowances on the computer or with their favorite video games!