What is multiplication?

Multiplication is a way of finding the total number of objects when they are grouped equally.

Multiplication is repeated addition.

We denote multiplication using ✖ and read it as times.

How to teach multiplication?
The majority of parents and teachers start introducing students to multiplication tables and make them mug them up. But that is not the right way to introduce multiplication. Before introducing multiplication, one should assess if the child has mastered addition or not? Without that the child would not understand the concept of multiplication. Post the assessment, here is a simple progression that can be used to teach multiplication:

Single-digit multiplication:
Step 1: Using concrete methods.
Introduce repeated addition and equal grouping through objects or toys. The purpose here is to show the students that instead of repeatedly adding 4, five times (4+4+4+4+4), they can write 5 x 4. Emphasize the fact that 5 x 4 means 5 groups of 4. This way they understand that multiplication is a shortcut method and will give results faster.

Step 2: Using the representational method
Now that students can relate multiplication with objects, we can shift that to using representations like dots, lines etc. Let them choose their own symbol.

Step 3: Using the abstract method:
Now let them use only numbers to multiply. Make students write the multiplication tables using repeated addition. This way they understand the logic behind mugging up the multiplication tables.

Step 4: Introduce the number line
Number line also helps students visualize multiplication in an effective way as they can clearly see the grouping on it.

Step 5: Simple word problems
Once students have understood the meaning of multiplication, it’s important they see its real-life application of it as well. Word problems not only raise the rigour but also are best for real-life scenario exposure. Give them, simple word problems like: I have 5 boxes of red balls, with each box having 3 red balls. How many red balls do I have in total?

Different ways of teaching multiplication: Teaching through stories:

Teaching through games:
a) Book cricket: This is one of the most popular games in elementary school. When students actually find the runs scored by players, and teams, they get extremely fluent with multiplication.

Teaching through activities:

a) Boom Bam: A classic! Choose two times tables, i.e. 3x and 5x. Students sit in a circle and take turns to count from 1 to 50 (for example). However, on every multiple of 3, the student must say ‘Boom’ instead of the number and on every multiple of 5, the student must say ‘Bam’ instead of the number. For every number that is a multiple of both 3 and 5, the student must say ‘Boom Bam!’

b) Multiplication musical chair:

  • Place a question card at every desk.
    Give each student a blank piece of paper and tell them to number it before the game begins.
  • Instruct the students to stand up and dance (or walk) around the room while the music plays.
  • When the music stops, students must find the nearest empty desk and solve the
  • question. Remind them to match the numbers on the card and paper.
    Play as many rounds as you like. Students might not be able to answer every question,
  • So take up the answers as a class when the game is over.

Multiplication posters: