Multiplication. Multiplication is a BIG deal in third grade and up. In fact, it’s so vital that teaching multiplication shortcuts can sometimes be your saving grace until the students actually memorize the multiplication facts.
In the past, I have talked about teaching multiplication strategies and tricks to help your students learn their multiplication facts, but today, I’m just going to focus on teaching your students multiplication shortcuts.
What the Multiplication Shortcuts Are and Why Teach Them
When we begin teaching students their multiplication facts, we definitely begin by helping them understand the concept of why and how we arrived at the answer. Once they understand those strategies of repeated addition, arrays, and equal groups, then we begin to teach them little shortcuts that can help them arrive at the answer a bit faster. For instance, most teachers definitely teach that to find the product of any number times two, we just double the other factor. Therefore, 2 x 7 is 7 doubled, so the answer is 14. This is also typically done with the factors of five (skip counting) and 10 (write the other factor and add a zero). But did you know that there are other shortcuts that can help your students, too?
Of course, of all my years teaching, I think I have always had the most fun teaching the nines. There are so many multiplication shortcuts to teaching the nines. In fact, some of the ones listed above in that Multiplication Shortcuts Chart (which is yours to download FREE – just click on those words back there) may be different from other multiplication shortcuts you have heard or seen – and that’s totally okay!
How to Teach Multiplication Shortcuts
When I teach the multiplication shortcuts in my class, I pull out my Multiplication Shortcuts Math Workshop Unit and begin by talking about what multiples are. Then, we start discussing patterns we notice on a hundred chart. We list out the multiples for the individual numbers of two to 10 and then discuss our findings. I find this to be very valuable to my students for understanding the shortcuts later.
Then, we begin looking at the patterns and shortcuts for factors with similar rules. In one mini-lesson, we focus on five and 10 together because they are typically relatively easy shortcuts with which students are already familiar. In the next lesson, we focus on the factors two, four, and eight because they are all double, then double-double, and finally double-double-double. (Since students usually know that two is double from 2nd grade, it is really like a review, and they are only learning two shortcuts.) Our next lesson is the factors of three and six, and then I follow it with the factor of nine to give students an opportunity to soak in the previous lessons but to also feel a bit more at ease. The nines have so many fun shortcuts that it’s easy to create a “mental break” for students. Lastly, we talk about the shortcut for seven by itself. To wrap things up, I like to review how the properties of multiplication (commutative and distributive) also can help us with our facts.
With each individual lesson, after discussing the shortcut, we practice it through engaging partner games and reinforcing practice sheets.
The Multiplication Shortcut Final Presentations
After we have practiced using the shortcuts, I then have the students show off their knowledge! They have to create a way to present the shortcuts using a Hollywood or movie theme.
Some students presented a long chain hooked together using yarn and index cards.
Here is a closer view:
Some students created a poster with flaps:
Other students created booklets. Overall, the presentations were amazing, and students definitely learned their multiplication shortcuts in a fun and engaging way!
All of these activities, including the lessons, games, and practice sheets can be found in my Multiplication Shortcuts Math Workshop Unit. The “Introducing…” Clapboard is not included in the math workshop unit, but you can download that free by clicking here.