In the last post, we started our exploration of multiplication strategies with repeated addition. It’s a logical first step because our students know addition and this step builds on that prior knowledge. This week, we’re delving into another powerful tool for multiplication: arrays. I absolutely LOVE teaching multiplication with arrays! You can see the lightbulb light up when your students get the connection!
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What are Multiplication Arrays?
Simply put, an array is a visual representation of multiplication using rows and columns. When we arrange objects, pictures, or numbers in neat rows and columns, we’ve created an array. These rectangular layouts can be an invaluable bridge for students moving from addition to multiplication.
- To represent 4 x 3, you would have 4 rows with 3 items in each row. The total number of items gives you the answer: 12.
Tips for Teachers on Using Multiplication Arrays:
- Begin with Real Objects:
- Start with everyday classroom objects like counters, buttons, or blocks. Arrange them in rows and columns to demonstrate the multiplication fact you’re focusing on.
- Transition to Drawings:
- Once students grasp the concept with physical items, have them draw their own arrays on grid paper or whiteboards. This helps solidify the understanding and offers a quicker way to visualize the math.
- Label the Dimensions:
- Always encourage students to label the number of rows and the number of items in each row. This way, they see the multiplication equation they’re representing.
- Connect to Repeated Addition:
- Point out how each row in an array represents a repeated addition equation. For example, with 3 rows of 5, they’re adding 5 + 5 + 5.
- Challenge with Word Problems:
- Pose real-life scenarios requiring arrays for solutions. “If you have 5 boxes of crayons and each box has 6 crayons, how can you represent this with an array?”
Why are Multiplication Arrays an Effective Strategy?
- Visual Clarity: Just like with repeated addition, arrays give students a tangible, visual way to grasp multiplication. They can see what 4 groups of 3 look like.
- Introduction to More Advanced Math: Beyond just multiplication, arrays set the stage for topics like area in geometry. It’s a concept that grows with them!
- Flexibility: Arrays can be used horizontally or vertically, allowing students to see the commutative property of multiplication in action (e.g., 3 x 4 is the same as 4 x 3).
Multiplication strategies, like arrays, offer our students the tools and confidence they need to tackle increasingly complex math challenges. And while multiplication arrays are just one of many tools, they’re a visually engaging and effective method that has stood the test of time.
It’s also easy to make multiplication practice with arrays a hands-on activity. You can use just about anything to make arrays: candy, mini-erasers, or math manipulatives.
This Two Truths and a Lie Multiplication activity is perfect for math centers or rotations. Your students can use problem-solving to determine which array matches the multiplication equation. Students love to find errors! Not only that – it’s a great hands-on way to practice with arrays!
As we continue our journey through these core multiplication strategies, always remember the importance of building on prior knowledge. From repeated addition to multiplication arrays, we’re paving the way for mathematical success.
Next week – we’ll explore skip counting as a multiplication strategy!
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.Robert John Meehan
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