My children have asked to learn what multiplication is, so I have created a few story problems for them to explore. And now I am sharing them with you. The download is at the bottom of this post.
The download includes, 3 story problems with 4 ways to solve each and a discussion ideas card for each problem.
You can cut out each card and organize them in a 3×5 card organizer or you can leave them on the computer and just read the problems. My printer isn’t working, so that’s what I ended up doing. I read the problem out loud, then after they had solved it, I showed them the page that had how “other people” had solved the problem.
Multiplication Problem 1
My goal in this problem is to get them to see how multiplication is repeated addition.
After solving the problem, I showed the child the four ways “other people” solved the problem and discussed them. Here is my daughter’s (8) answer sheet. It’s kind of a mess because I asked her more questions and she used any blank space to answer them.
The big middle part is her solving the original problem and her number sentences are under it. She solved it how I was expecting her to, by repeated addition. But her number sentence doesn’t make it obvious that it’s repeated addition. So I had her rewrite it at the top.
“2+2+2+2+2=10 is correct, but there is a faster way to write this problem. It’s called multiplication. How many 2’s are there?”
“So the multiplication number sentence for this problem would be 2×5=10. Let’s write that on your paper.”
Then I asked what the number sentence would be if there were 8 friends instead of 5. I did a few different numbers until it felt like she got the concept.
I also did the same problem with my 6 year old son but he solved everything in his head and I didn’t think to transcribe it for him. I think I did more practice problems with him because he seems to find it fun.
Multiplication Problem 2
The goal of this problem is for them to see that it doesn’t matter what order we multiply in. 3×4 will be the same as 4×3.
When I asked them who had more cookies, they both thought the person with more bags would have more. So, I asked them to prove it.
Here is Grace’s (8)
We talked about how the other four people solved it. How she was surprised that they were the same answer. I asked questions like, “Which is more, 5×6 or 6×5.” Just to make sure she understood.
Multiplication Problem 3
This problem is trying to show them another way to model a multiplication problem, in an array. I didn’t have anything specific I was going for aside from exposure.
Here is Ben’s (6)
Again, he solved the problems in his head, this time I wrote down what he said. The bottom part his him figuring out what else made 20. I’m still amazed that he did it in his head without manipulatives.
Multiplication Activity 1
Next I had them make a multiplication chart and taught them how to read it and fill it in.
To my surprise, they were very enthusiastic about this project and worked on it together for several hours the first day.
Once they got the easy ones filled in, I showed them how each row or column was repeated addition. So the 3’s column is adding by 3 all the way down. Again I was surprised by how long they worked on it and that they didn’t need counters.
Below are my younger children “working” with the older two.
Multiplication Activity 2
Next, I tell them a problem and they look at their charts to tell me the answer. Grace hung her chart up in her room, so she has to run into her room, remember the problem, find the answer, come back to the living room to tell me.
Not only is she practicing reading the table, she is practicing her memory and working on some gross motor skills.
At first she was doing one problem at a time. Then she wanted to hurry up the game and I started giving her 3. Which was somewhat counter productive for her since she had to come back several times and ask, “what are the problems again?”.
Next, I tell the an answer and they have to come up with a problem. This is harder than it seems and took a little bit for them to do it quickly. If I said 20, they could say 5×4 or 2×10. Once we had practiced a few times I started asking if they could come up with a different problem with the same answer.
The whole unit took about 2 weeks.
Story Problems for You
Want to try them out with your student(s). Download here.
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