Saturday, January 19, 2013

Modeling Multiplication....Literally

My students have become marvelous multipliers (Is this a real word?)  This is not to say that they have committed these facts to memory yet but as long as they can use a model,  students can get the answer to most any multiplication fact. Using the models and understanding that multiplication is repeated addition is the key to their success. A couple of weeks ago we started the study of multiplication. We worked on putting equal sets together and told lots of multiplication stories.

I had this set of play doh sitting on my counter so I thought why not use it to model multiplication literally.
Before I show you what they did, let's just take a moment to  recognize and appreciate the power of playdoh.  My kids were all ooohs and aaahhhs when I brought out the playdoh so I made a bargain with them.  IF they worked and listened well throughout the lesson THEN they would get 5 minutes of playdoh playtime at the end.   And yes, I teach third graders.You would have thought that I promised them them a hundred dollars. They were GOLDEN, everyone on task and productive! So if you are going to try this, try using that bargain as well. I think you will be happy with the result.  
So here we go, I gave each student half a can of playdoh, a big dry erase board and a challenge.
My challenge was to tell a multiplication math story through pictures, numbers, words and the play doh.  Here are some of the stories they came up with:
First we had three hungry cows each eating 3 of something????
Next we had 5 trucks each carrying 4 boxes.
How about 7 people each having 2 apples each.
Students used repeated addition, number lines and set models to show their thinking.
Later in the week we worked on the array model.  For this students were given square tiles. I used the smartboard and squares to model this first.  Then students came to the smartboard to demonstrate before I set them off with their own tiles and boards.
Here we see students representing multiplication facts with array models and set models side by side.
This student gets that it is repeated addition.  I liked the plus signs between his rows.

See what I mean?  Marvelous multipliers!
Next week students will be writing explanations during writer's workshop time.  I will be having students write what it means to multiply and students will need to explain the process through a paragraph.  I am hopeful that they will have much to write about!
I am posting some of the printables I have used for this early stage of multiplication learning.  IF you are interested check it out here: