Multiplication Strategies Provide Answers

Question: My daughter has easily memorized the 2s, 3s and 5s in multiplication. The others are coming along very slowly. Are there any tricks to make learning these facts easier? –Multiplication Problems

Answer: Rote memorization of the facts works for some children. Such memorizing is more fun if children sing or chant the facts. There are a number of commercially produced tapes, CDs and DVDs available that teach multiplication facts. Check out the children’s section at your local music store or go online to search for them.

Teaching your daughter strategies to figure out the answers until she learns the facts is better than having her rely on rote memorization.

Begin by using the flash cards 1 x 1 through 6 x 6. Shuffle the cards and have her select the top one. If she knows the answer, she goes to the next card. If she doesn’t, have her go through the steps in the following strategy:

1. Write the problem: 4 x 3.
2. Draw four horizontal lines.
3. Draw three vertical lines through the horizontal lines.
4. Count the number of intersections to get the answer: 12.

The advantage of this strategy is that your daughter finds the answer through her own activity. And if she forgets a fact, she can quickly draw lines to find the answer. To further cement the facts in her mind, your daughter can make up a song to a familiar tune.

Multiplying the numbers 2 through 5 by 6 through 9 can be made easier by breaking up a fact into two easier facts. Here is an example of using this strategy for 3 x 7:
1. Write the problem: 3 x 7.
2. Break the 7 into two pieces: 3 and 4.
3. Multiply each piece by 3: 3 x 3 = 9 and 3 x 4 = 12.
4. Add the products together to get the answer: 21.

For the 9s, your daughter can use this strategy:
1. Write the problem with the 9 as the second factor (6 x 9).
2. Figure the first digit of a 9s product as one less than the multiplier for 6 x 9: 5.
3. Determine what digit will make the sum of the digits in a 9s product add up to 9: 4 in this case. Thus, 6 x 9 = 54.

Parents can send questions to Dear Teacher, c/o Carolina Parent, P.O. Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395 or e-mail