Teach elementary students all about multiplication by building background knowledge about things that come in groups. Brainstorm a list of things that come in 2s, 5s, 10s and help students see that multiples of those groups lead to multiplication expressions.

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First, we brainstormed, as a class, things that come in 2s. I started with the idea of chopsticks and how many I would need for one student, two students, four students, etc. Students gave me more ideas for other things that come in 2s.


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Students went back to their table groups and brainstormed things that come in 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s in small groups. Some of the numbers were more difficult than others, but they got the idea.

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We came back to our carpet area and each group shared out what they came up with and other students added to their lists.

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As a follow-up activity, I’ve had students choose a “thing” and write how many things in that group if there are one, two, 3 . . . up to 10 things. For instance, if a child chose a spider, they would write 1 spider has 8 legs, 2 spiders have 16 legs, etc. I have them write it in a function chart, or a T-chart as we call them. (I need to get photos of these).

After students wrote the list, I would have them color in the numbers they got on a 0-99 chart and look for patterns in what they colored. They did this in their math journals, so we could keep a record of it.

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I haven’t done this part, yet, but as a follow-up, I’d have students share as a whole group the patterns that they found and we’d make a list with each 0-99 chart of those patterns.