Jul 26, 2011

Multiplication mambo

Fun with maths facts - how to teach homeschool multiplication
Mastering your maths facts is essential, you'll get no argument from me...but boring drill and kill is just plain dull. The more learning modes you can engage the better the recall and your kids can get into all the good stuff sooner.

Unlimited by school curriculum grade guidelines, in our homeschool if you are up for the challenge you can have a go. Our approach for the last 3 or so years (first after-schooling then homeschool) has been shovel in the facts then dive into the concepts. 

I believe lots of kids are so bored while accumulating the facts they never get to feel the thrill of enjoyment in the real maths : (

Order is not set in stone
Don't get caught up in "school rules" of "must do facts before doing fractions", decimals, even division. There isn't any reason to hold a child back from conceptual maths because their recall is imperfect. Running from the desk to a multiplication chart to check then coming back to work, or jotting down your skip counting pattern to help solve long division is good: need is a good motivator.

Watching her big sis dive into fractions, geometry, and prime factors, July is keen to get her hands on the goodies too. So this has pushed multiplication and division up the queue. As she is a super crafty creative girl, I knew I'd need some strong visual-spatial tools - straight memorisation was never going to cut it.

When November was at this stage, she looooooved memorising - and I felt I had to prise her little fingers off the pencil and urge her to play with blocks and MABs, coins and beads and buttons to build arrays and to have some "hands on" creative living maths. Whether she wanted it or not! he-he

So here is how we have been approaching multiplication in our homeschool for the second time...or is that times 2?

Start with the oral, and aural
Skip counting aloud is a great game for even tiny children. 

Once they are curious about pairs of objects (shoes, socks, hands, feet, you get the idea) start counting! This is the foundation of multiplication...it may seem like you are just adding 2, 3, 4, etc in effect you are teaching the product of two numbers.

2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and on it goes. Most children love this kind of pattern and once you let them in on the "secret code" a very young child will love to work their way up through the number patterns.

Secret code?
Counting by 2? Whisper 1, loudly say 2, whisper 3, loudly say 4, whisper 5, loudly say 6....

Counting by 3? Whisper 1, whisper 2,  loudly say 3, whisper 4, whisper 5, loudly say 6, whisper 7, whisper 8, loudly say 9....and you get the idea.

Hands on help from "The Toymaker"
We made up the brownie skip counter (see above) and laminated the strips for durability.

Once mastered, we moved onto the multi-pies. The Toymaker's sheets only go to 6x, so once these were covered, I printed out another set, and made up from 7x through to 12x on labels over the original numbers 1-6 and joined them. Your student holds them in their hands, thumb covering the answer, and moves around the edge of the multi-pie. Beautiful and kinaesthetic.

Practice the physical, build those pathways
Skip counting works nicely with jumping on the trampoline, bouncing a ball, even on a number line drawn with chalk.

Build arrays - arrangements of equal sets. This is essential in teaching the relationship between multiplication and division. This photo shows July making up sets to 12: 2 x 6, 3 x 4, 4 x 3. Of course, once made up, you can go backward to show 12 divided by 6 = 2, 12 divided by 3 = 4 etc.

Our girls loved this "playing" with objects. Try pebbles, seeds, lego blocks, eyes, sparkles...Good maths is about working with the feel of a number, not an intellectual idea of a number. That is why physical is good.

Memorisation stage
Utilise the rocky fun of Multiplication Rock from Schoolhouse Rock on youtube. Adding a tune always seems to add memorisation.

Use a hundreds chart to count through in skips.

Make a blank 10 x 10 table (or 12 x 12 is even better) and work through breaking down each row. This is a great confidence builder as it teaches the commutative principle for multiplication (4 x 3 = 12, as does 3 x 4 = 12; the order doesn't effect the answer). Fill it in as you work through each level - a reward to demonstrate mastery.

We also do the huge verandah or sidewalk version with chalk.

Try making a times table clock for the 1 x through to 12 x...

Here is a close-up - lots of colouring in for those so inclined.

Introduce square numbers
Follow the diagonal line on the blank grid = squares! Build with corn or pebbles to prove same number multiplied by same number = square and it really does make a visual square. Important foundation for square root work later on.

Cognitive skill building - use it don't lose it
Try your usual worksheets, games like the excellent Timez Attack (has a free version plus a paid version - slightly scary but fun!), and just multiplication in every day life.

How do you break the drill and kill in your homeschool?


Ingi said...

On 2.8.11 Ingi said:

What fabulous, fabulous maths! Your girls are lucky ducks indeed - they won't grow up with a fear of maths. They will grow up knowing the joys of maths and finding patterns!

We (generally speaking) avoid colouring in like the plague, but we try to find the maths in most things - shells? Fibonacci golden ratios! Calculating percentages! Multiplying fractions in recipes! The opportunities are endless. We love Life of Fred here too (thanks to you) and also loving The Joy of Mathematics DVD by Arthur Benjamin from Great Courses.

Sheela said...

sheela commented on 6.9.11 on Multiplication mambo - Mansted Family Project:

Excellent ! This is what today's child wants to learn. Creative and playway method. Fantastic projects. Easy to make, low priced and creative. A great job. Keep it up. Some of them we have in our school. Two of them were new shall try at my school. Thanks for a wonderful idea. Sheela

Tracey Mansted said...

Wow Sheela!
Such enthusiasm : ) You’ve made my day!

Butterfly said...

DS7 likes tables and learned many facts after listening to a CD a couple of times, just for fun and the love of numbers and music. DD6 is more physical and creative, and will love your hands-on colourful methods.

Just what I needed, thanks Tracey!

Tracey Mansted said...

Pleased you like them Butterfly - let me know how it goes!

factivation-for-multiplication said...

Thank you for sharing this information. The information was very helpful and saved a lot of my time.

Multiplication worksheets

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...