Each year around Christmas time, my little Second graders begin begging me to learn multiplication!
It's funny to me... but Multiplication to them is seen as this big scary topic that makes you a Third grader. Because they're so excited to learn and challenge themselves, I love giving them an introduction to multiplication. It likewise allows me to continue challenging my higher performing students throughout the year in small groups, while giving my other students who are still struggling with 3 digit addition and subtraction a little taste of third grade confidence.
I always start my very first day with multiplication by using m&m's. Using Candy as a manipulative for Math makes the lesson seem more exciting! And because I rarely use food in the classroom, it makes it special too!
This year because I have five students who are allergic to nuts, I also used skittles!
Students use the m&m's and skittles to create "groups of". They write down the mutliplication problems that coincide with the candy they created. We slowly learn that multiplication is equal groups and that there is a relationship between multiplication facts with the same numbers. For example, 3 groups of 5 and 5 groups of 3 equal the same amount of candy pieces. Here you can see a picture of one of my student's work stations.
Students tend to catch on extremely quickly when multiplication is presented this way. I lead them through about 6 or 7 problems together and then let them play around with the candy, making their own math problems! The discovery aspect helps solidify their learning. They write the ones they find on the white board in front of the classroom and we clap for all the awesome work they've discovered at the end of class.
The next day, we use colorful beads and our fun whiteboards to continue discovering multiplication. I found these amazing ping pong boards in the "dollar spot" at Target one day and used them for fun paddle white boards. Again I lead them through a few problems, making sure to introduce them to the multiplication rules of 0 and 1. I then again let them explore.
By using fun manipulatives and materials and by making multiplication into a discovery, it becomes fun and manageable. Students can immediately feel successful and excited to keep learning. It also gets them excited to start learning Division!
I love how this student used his white board to beg me to keep learning! Gotta love 2nd grade spelling too! ;)