In 3rd grade, Jozlin is working to master multiplication facts, long division, and stacked multiplication.
Multiplication facts are FOUNDATIONAL and CRITICAL. It feels like we are standing at the bottom of a nasty cliff. She must memorize these facts in order to make the climb to smoothly sail forward in her mathematical career. *Note: I went to college to become a math teacher… I tend to value math education.
Five years ago, while tutoring math I would simply tell students, “We can’t move forward without having these facts memorized.” I would then give the students a couple tools and pray time would be spent to master the facts.
Now, being THE teacher AND mother, multiplication fact mastery weighs heavy on my shoulders. Frankly, it is a little scary.
The best solution we have found is to be consistent. Repetition is the name of this game. I am not going to pretend that we are ever perfectly consistent, as humans we rarely are.
Here are 7 ways we make multiplication practice more interesting.
1.) 10 Sided Dice. I LOVE using dice to practice math. Each child picks 2 dice, they roll the dice, multiply the numbers together, and shout out the answer. This works great for addition/subtraction facts too! Another option, choose a number (i.e. 3s), roll one die, multiply that number by 3. Side note: The girls made up a game rolling the dice and writing down all the facts on a piece of paper. They thought this was SO MUCH fun! When I give my children tools they often will invent something amazing without any prompting.
2.) Remove the face cards from a deck of playing cards leaving only A-10. Flip over 2 cards, multiply the numbers together, and say the product aloud. The other option is to flip one card multiplying by the number you choose to work on. If it is beneficial, make this a competitive game by racing to say the product. At this point, competition brings tears to our house so we simply take turns.
3.) Online Multiplication Practice. Jayne introduced me to this website many years ago. I highly recommend it! We typically set the workout time to 2 minutes and cut off time to 1 day. This takes Jozlin through all the facts she is working on, repeating any that she misses. If a problem is missed, it give the correct answer and requires the correct answer to be typed in before moving on. Love this tool! (When Zaylee uses this to practice addition and subtraction we make the workout and cut off time to 1 day. At this point, if she sees the clock counting down it makes her anxious.)
4.) The Good and the Beautiful Musical Multiplication. Add music to memorization and the result is golden! Through little dittys this set helps kids memorize multiplication facts. We listen to these songs in the car. During math when Jozlin gets stumped I pull up the fact song and let it play. The songs are handy and fun! (It also break the tension and frustration that builds when she can’t remember a fact)
5.) Rocket Math. Similar to Mad Minutes, we completed in elementary school back in the 90s, these are worksheets designed to master facts. We time how long it takes to complete each worksheet. I really like the 8 Rules of Multiplication found here at dadsworksheets.com.
6.) Flash cards. On a 2”x2” piece of card stock I wrote out each multiplication problem. Jozlin proceeded to write the answers on the back. These can be used to review her facts.
7.) Trifacta is a fun review game! It takes us a number of rounds to get into the groove. We include everyone which looks like: Marshall throwing down random cards on his turn and team work to help Zaylee make fact families. It is great practice even if it’s not strictly by the book. I imagine in two years, when Zaylee is working on multiplication facts, this game will be super fun to play!
The thought crossed my mind many times… Do we freeze Jozlin’s math work until she has these facts memorized? I was not sure what was the right course of action.
We chose to continue working through her 3rd grade singapore math curriculum. Adding daily multiplication fact practice or as often as we remembered. I feel we made the right choice.
Jozlin has not mastered the facts, but she is leaps and bounds ahead of where she was two months ago!
What tools have you found helpful while leading your children or students to multiplication fact mastery?