Friday, October 7, 2011

Multiplication Fun!

I see so many bloggers who say that literacy is their "safe place" and that they love teaching children to read. I, however, am the complete opposite. I totally struggle with teaching reading! Math is my happy place!

During RtI, my grade level is trying something new. As always, we broke up the students according to level, but we aren't exactly doing small groups for everyone. The highest and lowest are remaining in small groups with specialists. The others are in groups of 15, and they will rotate through the 3rd grade teachers on a 2 week rotation. Each of us is focusing on a different skill.

I have multiplication/division. YES! My favorite thing to teach! This cycle, I have one of the higher groups, so in the two weeks, I went through Arrays, Repeated Addition, Drawing a Picture, and Knowing your facts as strategies.

Here's what I did for arrays. And let me tell you, I was talk of the hallway! Remember these from your childhood?

Perler Beads? (sp)

Okay, me either. BUT, when I was an arts&crafts teacher at a summer camp a few years ago, this was the bee's knees. The cat's meow even.

I was browsing through the craft store, came across these, and BOOM. An idea! Students were in pairs, and every pair had a cup of these beads and the board that you use to shape them on. After introducing arrays the day before, they were ready to practice. I started small, asking them to make an array that represented 3 x 3, and I eventually built them up to 12x12. At the end, I let them each make their own array, but it would not be ironed until they correctly identified the array that it represented. Every 3rd grade friend walked out with an array that day!

They couldn't stop talking about it. They won't forget what an array is any time soon! This was an inexpensive project, as I didn't let them make an array bigger than 10x10 to take home. I can use these beads for a looong time before they run out! [These pictures are from google. I didn't take a picture this rotation, but I definitely will next go around if those friends can handle this project!]

How do you make multiplication hands on?


  1. Hi Meg:

    I LOVE this post! I love your enthusiasm. I love your delight in knowing the kids have mastered the concept. I secretly love that you like teaching math over literacy--me too!

    I can't wait to read more that you post! My sixth graders don't like math (with the exception of a few algebra coverts) and many have very "mushy" math foundations. Somehow I just know I am going to be learning a lot from you!

    Thanks already!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    PS My (only semi-thrilling) give-away is happening next week. Maybe this time you WILL win!

  2. Megan, I love this idea! I'm a pre-service teacher and am getting ready to teach about multiplication this week. I was wondering if you could elaborate on HOW you the concept. Did the different colors of the array serve a purpose (such as representing different multiplication facts) or were the students just allowed to decorate to their liking and then had an array that represent one fact? Does that make sense? haha Love your site + love your enthusiasm!

  3. The colors didn't mean anything, I just let them decorate however they chose.

    Before we did this project we discussed that an array represents a multiplication fact just like an equation does, but instead of the times sign meaning "groups of", the times sign means "rows of". We talk about rows and columns, and how many are in each row. After we've talked about arrays and done them on paper, I put them in groups and they make a few of these bead arrays with a partner [without ironing them] so they get the idea.

    Good luck! =)