Mastering the Basics: Strategies for Teaching Multiplication to Young Learners

When it comes to math, we know that number recognition and basic addition and subtraction are super important. But when it comes to learning higher level math skills, our students need to be exposed to multiplication! Knowing and usingย  strategies for teaching multiplication in the classroom puts students on a direct path to higher-level math concepts. What tips and strategies should you be using? Keep reading to find out!ย 


Before Teaching Strategies for Multiplication 

While strategies for teaching multiplication can be super helpful, your students are going to need an understanding of repeated addition and skip counting. It is especially important that students can count by 5โ€™s and 10โ€™s. Itโ€™s also important that their mental addition and subtraction skills are proficient for basic facts. If you're unsure whether your students are ready or if they need a review before you start teaching multiplication, you can check out our Review in A Snap line of no-prep printables or our Squares Your Brain math games which will save you time planning. Plus, your students will be engaged and ready to move on to multiplication! 

Start Simple by Doubling Up: Multiply By 2โ€™s 

When you are starting to use strategies for teaching multiplication, itโ€™s good to start with the basics. Using the โ€œDouble Upโ€ strategy is an easy way to introduce students to multiplication facts. This method, focusing on multiplying by 2โ€™s, turns multiplication into a simple addition of the same number. For instance, 4 x 2 becomes just 4+4.ย 


In the classroom, I like to start with real-life examples. Using objects like pencils or fruits, demonstrate the concept visually. Then, gradually move to abstract numbers. You can even incorporate songs or rhymes about doubling to make the strategy more engaging and memorable. 

Double Trouble: Multiply by 4โ€™s

Once your students have mastered doubles, you can build on the โ€œDouble Upโ€ strategy with โ€œDouble Double.โ€ This takes multiplying by 2โ€™s to the next level to multiplying by 4โ€™s. Here, students double a number then double the result again. For example, to find 3 x 4, double 2 to get 6, and then double 6 to reach 12. 

To practice this strategy for teaching multiplication in class, you can use interactive math games where students have to find pairs of numbers and their doubles. This not only gets students thinking, it gets them up and moving around the room which is great for the mind. 

Strategies for Teaching Multiplication: Moving to 8โ€™s 

Once students have mastered 4โ€™s, you can add another โ€œdoubleโ€ to their plate. The โ€œDouble, Double, Doubleโ€ strategy expands on the previous method and is ideal for multiplying by 8โ€™s. Just like the previous strategy had students double, this one has students tripling. For example, if students are trying to multiply 3 x 8, they start by doubling 3 to get 6, double to get 12, and double to reach 24. 

All of the doubling strategies for teaching multiplication are heavily reliant on your students having a strong foundation of repeated additions and doubles! 

Moving Up to Multiplying By 5โ€™s and 10โ€™s 

While doubling can be a bit difficult, most students pick up the strategy for multiplying by 10 quickly. Why? Well, we tend to teach our students in kindergarten or first grade how to count by 5โ€™s and 10โ€™s. We can use the strategies they learned in their lower grades to help us with multiplying by fives. To use this strategy for teaching multiplication, students first multiply by 10 and then divide the number they get in half to get the multiple of 5. For example, if you want to multiply 3 x 5, multiply 3 times 10 to get 30 and divide the value in half to get 15; therefore, 3×5 is 15.ย 


This strategy requires students to think a bit harder and to really be able to double numbers. If students can double numbers, they can usually undouble as well. If students arenโ€™t great with doubling yet, have them count by fives the number of times of the other number. For example, 5×7, we count by five 7 times to give us 35. 

Getting Tricky with Multiplying by 6โ€™s and 9โ€™s

Once students have multiplying by fives and tens down, you can move on to multiplying by 6โ€™s and 9โ€™s which should be a breeze! This strategy for teaching multiplication uses 5 and 10 to make multiples of 6 and 8. With this strategy, students either multiply by 5 and add a group to make six groups or they multiply by 10 and subtract a group to make 9 groups. 


For example, if you want students to multiply 6×6, then you multiply 6×5 to get 30 and add one group of 6 to get 36. Similarly, if you want to multiply 6×9, you multiply 6×10 to get 60 and subtract one group of 6 to get 54. This helps students break down multiplying into skills they already have and feel confident in. While this strategy for teaching multiplication is amazing, it does require students to have a firm grasp of addition and subtraction. 

Practice Makes Perfect!

Once your students have mastered the strategies for teaching multiplication above, you use practice sheets that have graphic organizers for the strategies to support learning. If you are a member of the OCO insiders, make sure you check your email for a surprise!ย 

Helping Your Students with Strategies for Teaching Multiplication 

When you start incorporating strategies for teaching multiplication into your classroom, you can help your struggling students finally master those facts. Each of the strategies above offers a different approach to understanding multiplication and caters to various learning styles. 

Because these strategies for teaching multiplication are about more than memorizing facts, we need to make sure we talk about what multiplication actually is as well. We canโ€™t just rely on tricks and strategies above only. These are simply there to help students learn ways to multiply mentally without memorizing a ton of facts. 

As you use these strategies for teaching multiplication in the classroom, make sure you observe and reflect on what is working with your students and feel free to adapt. After all, every single classroom is unique and what might work with one group might not work with another. If you use any of these strategies, please make sure you tell us which ones you loved by sending Farrah a DM on Instagram or leave a  comment below! 

Until Next Timeโ€ฆKeep Being Educational Rock Stars

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