I landed a job teaching third grade
right out of college. It seems like I spent the entire year reviewing
multiplication facts. We drilled, drilled, and drilled some more. Although it
looked like the majority of my students learned their multiplication facts, it
was hard to gauge if they actually understood the

*concept*of multiplication. After my first year, I changed schools and began teaching fifth grade. Once again, it seemed like I spent the entire year focusing on our multiplication facts. Once AGAIN, we drilled, drilled, and DRILLED some more.
Now that I am teaching second grade, I
have really started thinking about how to teach the

*concept*of multiplication. I don’t start multiplication until later in the school year. However, we address the concept throughout the year.
I have found that discussing real life
situations with the kids is the best way to introduce multiplication as a
concept. For example,

*“Sally Sue Pants bought four ice cream cones. Each ice cream cone has three scoops of ice cream on it. How many scoops are there in all?”*The first thing we do is to actually draw the picture--we draw four ice cream cones and then add three scoops of ice cream to each cone.
After that, I show them that it is
actually a multiplication problem and show them how to write the problem. We repeat
this several times. I like to divide a paper into fourths so that we can have
eight practice problems (four problems on each side).

After we understand the concept of
multiplication, we move onto work that still requires students to draw the
problems. Although some may be ready to move on to learning actual multiplication
facts at this point, we save those for later. Once we seem to have mastered
that, I show them how the problem can be represented as a multiplication
problem. The students love being able to write multiplication problems. After adding
and subtracting in kindergarten and first grade, it’s exciting for them to be
able to write a whole new kind of problem.

Even though we are writing
multiplication problems, I really like to be systematic about which problems we
start with. I prefer to start with only multiplying by 2’s. Since multiplying
by 2’s is a review of adding our doubles, it’s the perfect place to start.

We focus intently on multiplying by 2’s
for an entire week. I really like to make sure they have mastered their 2’s
before moving on. The eventual target is to have the students solving word
problems that require them to apply their multiplication facts. My students
seem to solve word problems better when they are allowed to use color pencils.
I have always used color pencils while working on the elmo projector. My
students asked me if they could use them too, and it has worked really well.
They love adding some color to their work.

When solving word problems, we always
read through the problem first. Next, we underline the question (this is where
the color pencils come in). We then go back and circle any number that we need.
Lastly, we solve the problem.

Don’t get me wrong – we still practice
our multiplication facts. However, we do not do that until they fully
understand the concept. When we start practicing the facts, I only start with 0’s
and 1’s. We practice these each morning with our warmup papers for a week.
After a week, we test over them (our test day is always Wednesday). If they do
well on those, they get a small sticker that they can put on their desk name
tag. I strongly suggest starting with the facts that they can easily master.
This is the order that I use in my classroom – 0’s, 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 3’s, and
then 4’s. Learning all of these will really help them going into the third grade.

My favorite site for multiplication fact
practice pages is Math Drills. I really like this site because it allows you to
focus on multiplying by a single number at a time. For example, after we have
learned our 0’s and 1’s, we move on to the 2’s. I can easily print pages that
contain only x2 problems. I like to print 100 problems a page, but I cut the
pages into strips so that they are only practicing 20 or 30 at a time. (This is
also great for saving paper).