Tag Archives: multiplication

Multiplication Breakthrough, 3 years later

Someone used the search terms “multiplication breakthrough” and landed on my site the other day. I don’t even remember writing anything like that, so I went back and reread the post I composed almost three years ago. Funny, I guess we didn’t stick with it because I don’t even remember doing that. However, we have had a new breakthrough just this school year. I had tried using flashcards in the past, but they didn’t really work. I don’t know whether it had more to do with his developmental level, his lack of focus, or what. But lately, they do work. Maybe it’s because I have changed my approach. For a while, we would do two or three cards until he knew them, then we would add one at a time, mixing them up sometimes to make sure he wasn’t just memorizing the order they were in. It worked! He now knows almost the entire deck, front to back. He’s very mathematically minded, so we have made it through five years of school without ever memorizing all the facts. He could always figure them out because he came up with a system. I had him explain it to me, and this is how he did it:

Two times a number is that number plus itself.

Four times a number is two times a number plus two times a number.

Three times a number is that number plus itself twice.

Six times a number is three times a number plus three times a number.

Five times a number is half of ten times that number.

Seven times a number is three times the number subtracted from ten times the number.

Eight times a number is two times the number subtracted from ten times the number.

Nine times a number is the number subtracted from ten times the number.

MathIt seems crazy and burdensome, but he got rather fast at it, and now he has a very good sense of how numbers interact with each other. Word problems are easy for him because he knows how math works. Distributive property is easy for him for the same reason. Now, finally, he has his facts memorized, but I believe that he is better off for having to figure them out for the last five years.

Second Grade Math Routine

This year, we faced our biggest math challenge yet: multiplication. My first question was, is there any way to teach multiplication tables without droning them? After receiving plenty of good advice, and doing a little research, I finally landed on a method.

Step one: cuddle up in Daddy’s big chair.

Step two: count by threes on our fingers.

Step three: recite 3×1=3, etc. in order, using our fingers.

Step four: mix up the facts, and use our fingers when we need to.

Step five: drill several times a day, mixing up the facts, and allowing him to use his fingers if he needs to. I drill him during math class, in the car, while doing dishes, while he is drawing a picture, etc. Basically, he is living, eating, and breathing the threes family right now.

It’s been a few weeks, but he has them all memorized! No fingers needed!

So, our math class currently goes something like this:

-Drill multiplication tables, 2s and 3s.

-Do about 3 pages from his Singapore math book. (He’s only got about 10 pages left in book 2A! – After which, we are taking a break from math books until January. We’re going to spend the next few weeks working on getting addition up to speed.)

-Work on addition facts for 4s, 5s, 6s, and 7s at this website: http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-math-lines/index.html (Ian loves this game!)

-Drill 7+9, 8+8, 8+9, and 9+9 (because he won’t cover these on the math website – it only goes up to a sum of 15).

I’m really starting to feel good about this whole math thing, and Ian doesn’t complain anymore, which is an added benefit!

New multiplication breakthrough

After weeks of trying everything from flashcards to speedsheets, Mathblaster to recitation, I think that Ian and I finally hit on something that works! Yesterday he came over to sit on my lap, after playing an online math game (and having plenty of trouble). I held up my hand, and ticked off one finger at a time as we counted by threes. “Three, six, nine, twelve, fifteen!” We did that several times, then I changed my approach. I held up one finger and said, “One times three is:” I had to make him wait until I finished speaking before giving me the answer. (He was stuck on counting by threes and didn’t want to wait.) After we went through the first five factors that way a few times, I began to mix them up (at his suggestion). Lo and behold, it worked! He knew them! The whole process took less than five minutes. Today we will learn up to 3×10 if all goes well, and add on 11 and 12 tomorrow for good measure. Prayerfully, we can learn a family a week using this method, and finally get back into his second grade math books. (We’ve been on hiatus while we focused on multiplication tables.) Hooray for something that works for us!!


What works for your kids? How did you tackle learning multiplication tables in a homeschool setting?