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Blog - For Parents - Math & Science
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Strategies for Introducing Your Child to Multiplication and Division

June 8, 2018

If your child has mastered place value, addition and subtraction, you might be wondering when he or she should take the major leap into multiplication and division. Learning to multiply and divide numbers are two of the most important math concepts to learn, but learning these operations can also be challenging for kids, who still need concrete learning devices to learn abstract concepts. 

If you’re simply looking for ways to help get your child started with multiplication and division, look no further! Discover some easy ways to start multiplying and dividing with your child today using the following tips!

Mastering Multiplication

If you’re wondering how to teach kids multiplication, it’s best to get them started using visual techniques like the following: 

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Making arrays using Play-Doh or Objects

The best ways for kids to understand multiplication is by seeing the concept laid out in front of them. Help your child make arrays using Play-Doh or fun objects like small candies to help visualize multiplication tables. For instance, organize objects in rows and columns using:

  • Play-Doh balls
  • M&M candies
  • Buttons
  • Corn kernels
  • Paper clips
  • Pretzels, or anything you can think of.

Just be sure that the objects are all alike and make uniform rows and columns to create arrays. After helping your child set them up, write down the multiplication equation (for example: 4x4= 16) on a notecard to label each array. 


Design a Deck of Fact Family Cards

As a kid, you probably remember making or using flashcards to memorize multiplication tables. While you can still help your child design his or her own set of flashcards, it’s also fun and even more meaningful to make a deck of fact family cards using multiplication equations. Keep it simple by including only one multiplication equation. Write the numbers of the equation on the bottom two angles.

For instance, for “2x3”, write a 2 on the bottom left angle, and the 3 on the bottom right. On the top angle, include the answer: 6. The best part about fact family triangles is that you can also use them when teaching division! 

Skip Counting

Practicing skip counting is an easy way to reinforce concepts important to beginning multiplication. Likewise, teaching kids to double, and triple numbers help kids understand the concept of multiplication before learning multiplication tables. In fact, if kids already know to skip count, they may already know multiplication patterns! Search for and use free printable math worksheets that help kids learn to skip count by memory or number line to help prep kids for learning multiplication facts.  

Division Discussions Using Manipulatives

Teaching kids division sounds even trickier than teaching multiplication, but the secret is the fact that you can use the same activities you used for multiplication to teach division! For more easy and fun activities use the following fun ideas: 

Creating Word Problems

Once your child is at least introduced to the concept of division, perhaps after completing the activity above, help your child create his or her own story using division as a key element of the story. Your child will create a scenario like the one they used when separating the candies or treats onto paper plates. Your child can be creative as he or she would like, but it is recommended that you pick a theme or topic to guide your child. These stories can then be used as division word problems.

For example, your child could write something like: “Four friends went to a carnival and won 48 tickets. The friends wanted to split the tickets. How would you divide the tickets amongst the four friends?” Make sure your child develops the story itself to maximize internalization of the division concept. 

Sharing is Caring

Sharing is a concept that kids are well versed in by the time they reach elementary school. Use the concept of sharing to drive your introduction to division. Use food or special treats to help reinforce the concept using a hands-on activity you can do right at home! Prepare for this activity by providing 3 or 4 paper plates, and multiple uniform candies, treats, or objects.

Count out the objects, and instruct your child to share them equally on the plates. Using Skittles, if your child counts 12 Skittles, he or she will need to determine that they could be shared onto 3 plates, each holding 4 Skittles. This will help bring division to life, and set a real world purpose for using division in everyday life! 

Sorting Buttons

Similar to the above sharing activity, this real-life activity sets a purpose for division in your home. Collect buttons and have your child count each to come up with a total number of buttons. Then, tell your child that each family member must have a certain number of buttons.

After counting the family members and separating the buttons for each household member, your child will deliver the correct number of buttons to each person in the house. While working, encourage your child to make a list, recording how many buttons each family member should receive. 

Multiplication and division seem like tough concepts for our little mathematicians to learn. However, with meaningful activities that bring the operations to life, your child will master the concept behind multiplication and division in no time! 

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