Games for multiplication facts practice are always a winner in the classroom.
Give a child the option of:
A. practicing their multiplication facts with a worksheet – columns of times tables to answer or;
B. using games to practice their multiplication facts.
What did they choose?
It’s a rhetorical question really. We both know the answer.
And while they may not know it, multiplication games are also a perfect choice for developing fact fluency.
What is Fact Fluency?
One of the most important math goals for teachers of students in grades 3 to 5 is to help their students develop fluency with their multiplication facts.
To do this, teachers must have a clear understanding of what fluency is.
Fluency is not about speed.
The Common Core State State Standards for Mathematics states that fluency is
skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently and approapriately. (CCSSI 2010 p.6)
Fluency is the ability to efficiently use an appropriate strategy to find the answer to the multiplication fact.
Kling and Bay-Williams (2015) discuss the model Phases of basic fact mastery which states that students develop fluency as they progress through three developmental phases.
- Phase 1: Modelling and/or counting to find the answer. This is achieved by using arrays, making or drawing 4 groups of 3 then skip counting each group (not counting in ones).
- Phase 2: Finding the answers to unknown facts by using known facts (a thinking strategy). For example, if a child knows the answer to 5 x 6, to find the answer to 6 x 6 they would add one more group of 6.
- Phase 3: Mastery of the facts. The child is given meaningful practice opportunities and now knows 6 x 6 = 36.
To achieve phase 2, students need access to strategies that help them develop fluency.
Sequencing the learning of the multiplication facts and developing strategies
The first set of facts students should learn are 2s, 5s, 10s.
These are the foundation facts. They’re called this because students can easily build upon them. Knowing these facts helps them learn their 9, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 multiplication facts.
For example, when a student knows 5 x 6 = 30, to find the answer to 6 x 6 they add another group of 6. If they know 10 x 6 = 60 but not 6 x 9, they can subtract one group of 6 to make 54. Students build upon the facts they know.
Students must also understand the Commutative Property of Multiplication. It states that the order of the factors doesn’t change the product.
When your students understand this, they know that two numbers can be multiplied in any order and the product will be the same. For example, multiplying 3 x 11 will give you the same answer as multiplying 11 x 3. Knowing this halves the number of facts there are to learn.
Meaningful Practice through Games
To achieve mastery over the facts (phase 3) students need to be provided with frequent opportunities for meaningful practice. This allows them to explore, apply and discuss multiplication strategies. One of the best (and most enjoyable) ways to provide meaningful practice is through games.
Games take away the stress that timed tests can cause.
They provide a wonderful opportunity for students to get the repetitive practice they need for mastery over a skill. They eliminate the boredom that comes with completing rows and rows of multiplication facts.
Use games to consolidate single facts and allow students to achieve mastery over the important foundation facts before moving onto the facts that students often struggle with – the 6, 7 and 8s facts.
If your class is ready to engage in fun and focused practice of their multiplication facts, board games will be perfect for them.
You can grab your pack of multiplication games from my store on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Your kids will be so excited to see a game and not a worksheet!
Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). 2010. Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State
School Officers. http://www.corestandards.org/wpcontent/uploads/Math_Standards.pdf
Kling, Gina, and Jennifer M. Bay-Williams. 2015. Three steps to mastering multiplication facts. Teaching Children Mathematics 21 (9): 548-59.