Teaching multiplication facts is easier than you think! By third or fourth grade, kids are ready to focus on learning their times tables. My fourth graders start the year with Math Facts Baseball. Students love going to bat, especially when they hit a home run.
We’ll start with the facts.
Teaching Multiplication Facts
Teaching multiplication facts boils down to 36 problems. Just 36 facts, and no more!
- 2 with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9
- 3 with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9
- 4 with 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9
- 5 with 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9
- 6 with 6, 7, 8, and 9
- 7 with 7, 8, and 9
- 8 with 8 and 9
- 9 with 9
Hints for Teaching Multiplication Facts
Teaching multiplication facts is easy! Try this:
- Start with 36 facts.
- Teach the twos; 28 facts left.
- Teach the fives; 21 facts left.
- Teach the threes; 15 facts left.
- Teach the fours; 10 facts left.
Most children can get to this point easily. Now they only need to learn 10 facts!
- Teach the nines. (Hint: The first digit in the product is one less than the number you’re multiplying. The two digits add together to make nine.) Only six facts left!
- Rhyme to teach two more facts: Six times eight is forty-eight and six times six is thirty-six. Only four more facts left!
- Use a sequence to teach one more fact: 5, 6, 7, 8 (56 = 7 x 8). Only three more facts left!
- Okay, it’s time to memorize. Three facts: 6 x 7, 7 x 7, and 8 x 8. That’s it! You’re done!
Math Facts Baseball
My fourth graders love playing Math Facts Baseball! Let’s take a look at the rules.
One inning of the game is played each day. Time between innings should be adjusted based on the proficiency of the overall class. More skillful classes might play every other day for five weeks; less adept classes, once a week for nine weeks.
Divide the class into two teams. Select team names, if desired.
Innings 1-3 (25-30 minutes per inning)
Copy one form of the test (including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) back-to-back. Administer the addition test first, giving students three minutes to complete the test. As soon as the addition test is finished, start the subtraction test, again giving three minutes. Repeat with multiplication and division.
Circulate and make note of students who are struggling.
Grade tests together. For each test with a score of 100%, the student gets one base:
- 1 test 100% correct = single
- 2 tests 100% correct = double
- 3 tests 100% correct = triple
4 tests 100% correct = home run
Have the first team line up in a specific batting order. (Rotate order for each inning.) Name positions in the room as bases: first, second, third, and home plate.
Each player states what he/she earned: single, double, triple, or home run (or struck out). He/she then walks to that base. No stealing is allowed in this game; players may only progress to the next base when forced by another player. Keep track of the score as students cross home plate; record on class scoreboard (included).
At the end of the third inning, collect tests and record scores.
Additional remediation is necessary for student success. Hold “Baseball Clinics” to improve players’ RBIs (runs batted in). This program focuses on fluency with multiplication facts.
Innings 4-6 (20-25 minutes per inning)
Play continues with only two minutes per test. Collect tests at the end of Inning 6.
Innings 7-9 (15-20 minutes per inning)
Play continues with only one minute per test. Collect tests at the end of Inning 9.
Even the best players should attend baseball clinics. For optimal success, begin clinics before starting your math facts baseball game.
The goal of this program is to ensure that every student in the class can fluently recall all multiplication facts. This can be achieved through traditional paper and pencil methods, but using resources on Multiplication.com simplifies and expedites the process.
Clinic 1: Determine the facts the student knows using the grid.
Randomly call out multiplication problems (such as “three times seven”). If the student cannot give the correct answer within three seconds, do not color the space. This clinic may be conducted by the teacher or an aide, at home by the parent, or in pairs. Click here to grab a free copy!
Clinic 2: Practice only the facts the student doesn’t know.
Start with the lowest set of facts that the students has not mastered. Make a set of flash cards for the facts the student does not know in that set and their inverses. (For example, Student X does not know all of his threes, specifically 3 x 6, 3 x 7, and 3 x 8. He gets six cards: 3 x 6, 6 x 3, 3 x 7, 7 x 3, 3 x 8, and 8 x 3.) The set needs to be manageable.
You can make flashcards by hand or use one of many free flashcard makers online.
Multiplication.com has a great online flashcard tool called Quick Flash II. Using this in addition to traditional flash cards is suggested.
Tell the student that he needs to know the facts on his cards in a short period of time (the next day or ten minutes, you choose). Send him away to practice at home or with another student.
If the student does not know the facts when he comes back to you in the specified amount of time, work with him to ensure that he learns it right then and there. No opting out!
Clinic 3: Increase fluency.
Once students know their facts, they need to increase their speed and fluency. This can be achieved by taking additional multiplication timed tests. Many free multiplication tests can be found online.
Using Fact Navigator on Multiplication.com simplifies this process. It generates and scores an online test. Set a goal of two minutes. If students cannot pass, or their times are over three minutes, move them back to Quick Flash II.
More Ideas for Teaching Multiplication Facts
- Applaud students’ achievements. Ring a bell, play a tune, or have students’ names announced over the school’s public address system when a big goal is achieved. This really motivates students to work harder!
- Cut (or use a die cut machine) construction paper x’s. Write each student’s name on one x. When a student masters the multiplication facts, hang the x on the wall. As he/she meets fluency goals (three minutes, two minutes, one minute), add stickers to the x.
- Get parents onboard. Communicate students’ need for help at home and their successes.
- Have students calculate average bases per inning. They simply add the number of bases they’ve earned each inning then divide by the number of innings played. It’s a great way to introduce finding the average, or mean. (Calculators suggested.)
- Make baseball cards with each student’s image. Several sites offer free cards, but you can easily create them using PowerPoint.
- Set a class goal. If it is achieved, go outside and play an actual class baseball game.
- Display your scoreboard, baseball cards, and/or x’s in the hall for all to see.
- Integrate poetry with “Casey at the Bat.” (An eight-minute video version of this poem, produced by Walt Disney in 1946, is available on YouTube.)
- Have students research the history of baseball.
- Explore statistics used in baseball.
- Download free materials from Scholastic entitled “Breaking Barriers.” This language arts unit features Jackie Robinson. Materials are available at two reading levels.
- Integrate the study of forces by reading The Magic School Bus Plays Ball.
- Check out all of the great baseball-related classroom ideas on Pinterest.
Enjoy teaching multiplication facts!