3 games to help students master multiplication facts

If you want to avoid drilling students on multiplication facts, games are a great way to encourage fluency.

In one study, researchers used multiplication games instead of worksheets or timed tests with third graders in a Title I school. At the end of the school year, students were tested on 100 multiplication facts. All the students in the class, except one, completed all 100 problems correctly in under 10 minutes.

Here are three of the games they used:

1.  Rio This game is played in groups of three. Each group needs 10 tiles, 15 chips, and a 10-sided number cube with the digits 1-10 on it. Students work on one multiplication table at a time.  So if they are working on 3’s, they write the products for the 3 times table (3,6,9,..) on the tiles.  The tiles are then mixed up and placed in the middle of the table. The first player rolls the cube and puts his or her chip on tile with the product of that number and the table they are working on.  The second player then does the same. If a player rolls a number and there is already a chip on the product, he or she must take that chip. The winner is the first person to get rid of all of their chips.

2.Salute. In this game, students are given a deck of cards and placed in groups of three. One student is the dealer and hands out a card to the two other players. Without looking at the card, the two students say “Salute!” and put the card on their forehead. The dealer, who can see both cards, says the product and each player (who can only see what the other person has) tries to guess what card is on his/her head. The player who guesses correctly first wins both cards.

3.Multiplication War:  This game is a modified version of the game War. A deck of cards is split between two players and each flips over the top card at the same time. The student who says the correct product of the two numbers first wins both cards.

The article mentions a number of other games and how the games were used with the students. For example, the games were only used for fluency AFTER the students developed an understanding of what multiplication was. The teacher also made strategic choices about the order in which the games were introduced, how students were grouped and what facts were used by different students.

Want to know more? Read the article below.

Kamii, C., & Anderson, C. (2003). Multiplication games: How we made and used them. Teaching Children Mathematics, 10(3), 135-141

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