One of the things I love about my son’s math curriculum (Miquon Math) is the thoroughness with which it addresses the building blocks and relationships between different mathematical concepts. I love the emphasis on hands-on learning (such as using the centimeter rods to help grasp a concept) and, although the majority of the curriculum book seems at first glance to be worksheet-based, I feel that with my help we make the concepts fun, clear, and a whole lot more interesting than math was back in my school days.
The Challenge of Multiplication
Case in point: in my third grade daily school journal, pretty much every entry ends with “I like Mrs. Gray” (my teacher) and “I hate math.” Some journal entries were just a simple “I hate math.” We must have written in our journals right after math? At any rate, I’ve always disliked it.
Learning math from the beginning as I teach my son, however, has been fun. I better see the connections. I love, also, how he was exposed to both multiplication and division as concepts in the first grade book! We are now at the beginning of the first half of the second grade books, and we’re back to multiplication again. But when I pulled out a worksheet last week, he panicked and froze. He couldn’t do this, he insisted.
I realized it was time to change things up.
Multiplication Fun with Fly Swatters
Enter Multiplication Product SPLAT.
I started today with the x3s and I made it in to a fun game with a fly swatter (called a product swatter), smirky flies just asking to be squashed flat, and “chalkboards” that give him the problem. I let him find answers with the centimeter rods, and I did not pressure him with a timer. It worked so well. You should have seen him attacking those flies again and again once he had discovered the right answer!
I think Multiplication Product Splat would be fun in a class setting too (letting the kids race against each other). For us, it was just right for my son alone. I plan on adding in x4 tomorrow, and maybe more on different days!
For today, though, I’m just glad we breezed through multiplication practice with no tears!He told me afterwards that he really like the flies part but he did not like the solving problems part. Of course, the standard complaint. The difference is, he did it anyway . . . complaint free and fast! If we had done a worksheet with the x3s, it would have taken far longer.
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Of course, you could use a real fly swatter and write the products on the chalkboard, calling out the problems as you please. But I think it’s pretty fun to smush those pesky flies!
What do you do to make practicing and understanding the times tables fun and active?