What’s the best way to teach multiplication? There are as many answers to that question as there are kids in your class. One thing’s for sure, though. Making multiplication fun is a great place to motivate your students. Here are 35 of our favorite games and hands-on ways to teach multiplication to your elementary school students. Note: The first ideas on this list are especially great for teaching right now, as you can play together as a whole class online, or you can assign activities for at-home work!
1. Draw Waldorf multiplication flowers.
Source: Multicultural Motherhood
This is a creative way to teach multiplication facts. Start by drawing the center of a flower and write any number 1–9 in the middle. Next, draw 12 petals around the center, labeling them 1–12. Last, draw another 12 petals and write the product of the center number and the petal adjacent to the new petal. To make it easy as an in-home assignment, make a blank template that your students can download at home.
2. Play multiplication war.
Source: Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
This activity can be used for one person or for a pair. Hopefully, most of your students have an ordinary deck of playing cards at home. If not, they can make their own number cards using index cards or scrap paper. To begin, students flip two cards face up. Then they multiply the two numbers on the cards together. Next, they write the math sentence on a piece of paper and solve the problem. You can assign a time limit, like ten minutes, or a number of problems, like six problems. If students are playing with a partner, both students flip two cards, multiply the numbers together and whoever has the highest product keeps the cards. At the end of the game, the player with the most cards wins.
3. Play Bingo!
Put a spin on a traditional game. Have students make their own cards by using the backside of any paper to draw a 5×5 grid and filling in the boxes with product numbers such as 16, 8, 48. 56, etc. The teacher calls multiplication problems, for example, 7×9. The students solve the product and, if that number is on their grid, cover that number with a bean or tile. Each student’s card is unique, and they can take pride in creating their own game. This activity can be played in person or virtually.
4. Put a mathematical twist on an old favorite.
This is a quick, easy activity that gets kids moving while they’re learning. It’s just like the game Roshambo (aka Rock, Paper, Scissors), but students put up fingers instead of rock, paper, or scissors. If students are playing in pairs, the first partner to multiply the two sets of fingers together and call out the product gets a point. If you’re playing all together virtually, choose a student to be your partner, then shoot. Choose two other students to be the “guessers.” Rotate shooters and guessers.
5. Repurpose an egg carton as a multiplication problem generator.
Using an egg carton, have students write the numbers 1-12 in the bottom of each depression. Place two marbles inside the egg carton and close the lid. Shake the egg carton, open the top, and then multiple whichever two numbers the marbles have landed on. Write the math sentence and answer on a sheet of paper. Repeat. If students have access to an empty egg carton at home, this could also be an at-home practice activity.
6. Let kids make their own multiplication facts flashcards.
Teacher Jen W. recommends this activity. “Have students put an artistic drawing to their flashcard answers. so the brain makes a connection between the answer and the drawing,” she says. “I teach fourth grade, and the kids have been very eager to make the cards at home. They keep them in their binders so that any time we have five minutes to spare, they can practice. They take a lot of pride in them as the cards aren’t just another set of flashcards.”
7. Teach multiplication facts with a simple wheel.
Source: Creative Family Fun
All it takes is paper plates, glue, and a marker to help your students learn their multiplication tables. This can also double as a craft activity allowing students to get as creative as they want when they decorate their plates. If students are doing this activity at home and do not have paper plates, they can make the circles out of regular paper.
8. Make a deck of fact family triangles.
Another project for kids to help them personalize their learning. Kids can make their own, focusing on the multiplication facts that continue to be difficult for them. Try this version by Primary Flourish.
9. Use LEGO bricks.
Source: Math Geek Mama
Use LEGO bricks to build equal groups (for example, “Show me 4 groups of 4” ) Or use them to make arrays (Show me 5 rows of 3 each). LEGO bricks are also a great way to model area if you use each bump on the top of the brick as one unit. Check out more ways to LEGO bricks to teach math.
10. Use your fingers.
Source: Create a Learning Environment
Teach your students the “tricky” way to multiply by nine using this fun model. Here’s how: Have students hold up all ten fingers. Then, say the problem is 9 x 6. Starting on the left, students count six fingers over and put that finger down. The answer is shown on their fingers! The number of fingers to the left of the finger that is down is the number of tens, and the number of fingers to the right of the finger that is down is the number of ones. So the answer is 54. Great for a whole class lesson, in person or virtually.
11. Use the force.
Source: Royal Baloo
Sometimes learning multiplication facts just takes practice. Worksheets may not be very exciting, but adding a theme that kids are interested in may motivate your students. This free download from Royal Baloo features homework sheets and practice papers with graphs, mazes puzzles, and more, all with a Star Wars theme.
12. Practice multiplication online.
Here is a giant list of our favorite math websites . You’re going to love these!
13. Sing along to learn.
14. Make these fun practice tools.
Try these fun tools in centers for independent practice or in small groups.
15. Play multiplication checkers.
Source: Teach Beside Me
Using removable label stickers, label the white squares (shown above, or red or black if you have a traditional checkerboard) with a multiplication problem. Next, place your playing pieces on top of the squares with the math problem on them. Play begins as usual as players move their pieces diagonally, trying to get to the other side. The twist is, you must solve the multiplication problem you land on. If you answer correctly, you are awarded that many points. For instance, if you land on 8×8 and answer correctly, you get 64 points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
16. Toss a multiplication soccer ball.
Source: Creating a Learning Environment
Take your fact practice outside for this fun game. Before you play, write random numbers in the white spots on a soccer ball. To play, toss the soccer ball up in the air and catch it with two hands. Look at which numbers your thumbs are touching and multiply them together. If you get the correct answer, shoot the ball 2 yards from the goal post. If the ball goes in the goal, move back another 2 yards and toss the ball for a new problem. The goal of the game is to move as far back from the goal as you can. If you get an answer wrong or miss the goal, move forward 2 yards and start again.
17. Play Snakes and Ladders.
Put an educational twist on an old favorite with this multiplication version of the game Snakes and Ladders. All you need to play is this inexpensive board game (only $1.50 to download), game pieces, and a die. To play, the first player rolls the die then moves their game piece that many spaces. They must then answer the multiplication problem correctly. If they get it right, they stay put. If they don’t, they go back one space and try that problem, moving backward until they answer correctly. The first one to reach the snake’s head wins.
18. Flip bottle caps.
Source: Croft’s Classroom
Start with bottle tops and colored dot stickers. Write a multiplication sentence on one dot and put it on top of the bottle cap. Write the answer on a second dot and put it on the bottom of the bottle cap. Then have students get in groups and lay all the tops with the multiplication sentence showing. They take turns, say the sentence aloud, and have to answer before turning the top over to check. If they get it right, they keep the top. If they get it wrong, they put it back. Whoever has the most at the end wins!
19. Have a back-to-back challenge.
Two students stand back to back, and each writes a factor on the whiteboard (you can set a number limit, usually 1–9). A “caller” multiplies the two factors and calls out the product. The two students have to try to solve the other’s factor, knowing only their own factor and the product. The student who guesses correctly first stays, and a new student takes the other’s space. Whoever wins three rounds in a row gets to be the new caller. This is typically a game for the entire class.
20. Play a round of baseball multiplication.
Source: Line upon Line Learning
Use one set of multiplication flashcards to play math baseball in the classroom. Put a flashcard down on the floor in a path. Kids take turns hopping on the cards, saying the answer, and seeing how far they can get. Stop when they make a mistake and see who gets the farthest.
21. Line up dominoes.
Dominoes are a great tool for generating multi-digit multiplication problems. Take two dominoes and line them up horizontally. That becomes the students’ problem. For example, let’s say one domino has a 4 and a 2, and the second domino has a 1 and 6. The problem would be 42×16. Perfect for solo practice or station work.
22. Roll the dice, Vegas style.
Use two pairs of dice and a scoresheet for Multiplication Roll ‘Em! At the same time, two students each roll two dice and then multiply their numbers together. The player with the highest product wins a point. Play continues until you reach a certain number or a time limit.
23. Play Top It.
Your kids will love playing Multiplication Top-It. Using a deck of regular cards, two students each draw two cards. These are their factor cards. Each student multiplies their two numbers together, and the highest product wins the hand. The player with the most cards at the end wins.
24. Make arrays!
Source: Miss Giraffe’s Class
Arrays are perfect for helping students visualize multiplication problems. An array is a systematic arrangement of similar objects, usually in rows and columns. Using unusual objects helps the concept stick. Fun ideas to try: paper clips, pretzels, M&Ms, crayons, tiles, blocks, buttons, popcorn kernels, rice, washers, chocolate chips, pom-poms, cheese balls, jewels, Smarties, pennies, raisins, pistachios, lentils, counters, or LEGO bricks.
25. Play Multiplication Squares.
Kids love playing the game Squares! All you need for this version is two dice, the downloadable game board, and two pens of different colors. One player rolls both dice, multiplies the two numbers together, then looks for the product on the board. The student then draws a line to connect any two dots that form part of the square around that product. The game continues until the board is filled with squares.
26. Construct array cities.
To help students understand arrays in the real-world, make array cities (directions here). Ask students to make at least three buildings, use rulers to draw straight lines, and write the multiplication facts. You will be able to clearly see which students understand the concept, and they will love how they turn out.
27. Make math power towers.
Source: Fabulous in Fifth
All you need is Pringles cans for storage, plastic Dixie cups, and a Sharpie to teach multiplication with towers. First, write a multiplication problem on the outside of a cup, then write the answer inside on the bottom. If a student gets the answer correct, they may begin making a tower. Each time a correct answer is given, they add to the stack. This can be done with partners or individually for early finishers.
28. Change your students’ names (temporarily).
Source: Mr. Elementary Math
Grab some name tags and write multiplication equations on each. Give a tag to each of your students. For the remainder of the day, everyone will refer to each other by the answer to the equation on their tag (e.g., the student with the name tag that says 7×6 would be referred to as “42”).
29. Take multiplication to the gridiron.
Source: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
All you need is poster board, 12-sided dice, and a couple of game pieces. Students move their game piece up the field by rolling the dice and multiplying the two numbers that face up. They get four chances to score a touchdown. Get the rest of the details of this fun game from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.
30. Play Multiplication Roll and Bump
Source: This Reading Mama
Download free game boards, each with a multiplier in the heading (for example, x 4). Roll two die, add them together, then multiply by the multiplier. Then place your game piece over that answer. If another player also comes up with the same product, they can “bump” your game piece off and replace it with their own. The player with the most markers on the board at the end of the game wins.
31. Make spinners.
Source: Super Fun Printables
The multiplication spinners shown above are available for purchase, but your students can also make their own. All you need is cardstock, scissors, brass fasteners, and a Sharpie. Cut two identical circles out of the cardstock and one additional circle about one-fourth of the size. Cut two notches, one on each side, out of one of the bigger circles. On the small circle, write the number you are multiplying (for instance, x11). On the circle without the notches write the numbers 1-12, and directly across from each number the product you get when you multiply that number by the factor (for example 2 and directly across 22). Students practice by rotating the top circle over the bottom circle.
32. Make pattern circles.
Source: Lemon Lime Adventures
For younger learners, use these circles to practice skip counting as a way to teach multiplication by twos, threes, or fives.
33. Play Multiplication Jenga!
Source: Minds in Bloom
Use a marker to write multiplication problems on each of the 54 blocks in a standard Jenga game. (Or alternatively, download this free template and tape a problem to each block). Students play the game by first stacking all of the blocks in a tower, then taking turns pulling out one block at a time. The object of the game is to remove blocks without having the whole tower collapse. The twist in this version is, each student must successfully solve the multiplication problem on their block in order to keep it. When the tower does eventually fall, the player with the most blocks wins.
34. Play Twister!
Source: Math Geek Mama
Your students will love this twisted version of an old favorite! Write multiplication problems on each dot of the spinner and write the corresponding products in the circles on the mat. Then have the students take turns playing. For example, the first student might spin and land on 4×5. They must then find, and place a hand or foot on, the number 20.
Source: Learning Wrapup
These inexpensive tools will help your students practice multiplication facts and build fine motor skills. To play, simply wrap the string from the problem on the left to the answer on the right. Turn the key over to check your answer. Covers “facts from 1×1 to 10×12 and everything in between.”
Plus, check out our pool noodle multiplication tutorial.