menu   home About Me My Shop My Classroom  
menu   TpT Instagram Facebook Twitter Pinterest Bloglovin  

10 Multiplication Center Ideas


If you've ever taught multiplication, you know how hard it can be to help students build fluency with their facts.  All of our students process the concept of multiplication differently, and therefore will build their fluency and understanding at different rates.  For some students, you can never have enough worksheets because they are finished before you even have a moment to put out the next.  For other students, one worksheet is overwhelming and their confidence plummets when they see their peers running up to the finished work bin with three sheets in hand.

ENOUGH! I needed my students to participate in more meaningful learning in a comparison-free environment, all while being differentiated enough to meet my wide range of learners.  Can you say, "TALL ORDER?!?"

Well, I got right to work.  A few ideas came right to mind, but it wasn't enough of a variety to engage all of my kiddos.  I then thought back to my six years of teaching math centers in first grade.  Were there any that I could possibly modify to use with multiplication?  Even if I could, would my students turn their nose up at them because they were too babyish?

I stared sifting through all of my first grade binders (I know we all still have our lesson plans from our student teaching, so let's stop pretending to be surprised that I have my binders from last year! Haha!)
It turns out that there are LOADS of activities that were perfectly suited to my multiplication needs.

I put a bunch of them together and began introducing them to my students.  We made a board that showed which centers were independent, those that required a small group, and those that could be played either way.  We also created some references materials that students could bring with them to their center.  For example, each student created their own book of multiples, where they colored in a hundreds chart to help them recognize patterns in skip counting {i.e. multiplication}.


As a class, we also made a list of Multiplication Strategies to help us remember when we were stuck.  We posted the list on our math wall, but I also made a smaller version for students to take with them to their center if they want.  Just click on the image below or {here} to nab this FREEBIE for yourself!


It has been really fun for me to watch students start to gain confidence in their skills and start to challenge themselves to not bring a reference with them.

In addition to several board games and computer games/apps that my students also have access to during centers, here are my TOP 10 MULTIPLICATION CENTER IDEAS.  Hope ya like 'em!

1.  ARRAY SKYLINES


Making city skylines out of arrays… why not? This activity is easily modified by using different sized graph paper (1 inch squares vs. 1 centimeter squares).  My struggling students who lack confidence in their multiplication facts LOVE this center because it gives them a visual model, and they enjoy creating something in the process.  They take pride in seeing their pictures hanging in the classroom.  My students who are comfortable with their multiplication facts love this center too because they can challenge themselves to create massive skyscrapers and discover new strategies to solve more complex multiplication problems.  It's a Win/Win!

2.  LEGO ARRAYS


Come on! What kid doesn't LOVE Legos? The simple act of putting Legos out at math time sells itself! Similar to Array Skylines, this center allows students to have a visual model, and has multiple access points to meet a range of learners.  My struggling students stick to the smaller pieces and focus on arrays up to 6 x 6.  However, I have other students who make massive arrays and show their ability to solve multi-digit multiplication problems by chunking it into smaller arrays. 

This center is also great for students who have weak fine motor skills and may be frustrated by the cutting aspect of Array Skylines.  I have students record their multiplication sentences on Post-It notes and place them next to their array.  We take a picture of it at the end, sometimes printing them to add to their math portfolios.

3.  ARRAY CAPTURE


This is a fun center that allows students to play with a friend.  Again, it helps students by providing them with a visual model.  This activity can be easily modified by providing students with different sets of dice.  I let my students choose the dice they want to play with (it's amazing how students are really able to choose their just right level independently!) My students just learning multiplication usually select a set of dice that has only number 1-4, where other students may challenge themselves with numbers 5-10.

Here's how the game is played:

1.  The first player rolls two dice.   Those numbers are the dimensions of their array.  (For example, if a player rolls a 4 and a 5, they will build an array measuring 4 by 5.)  

2.  The first player colors in their array with their color (player 2 will have a different color).  Then, they write their multiplication sentence in the middle of their shaded array (For example, 4 x 5 = 20)  On the first roll, players must place their array in the starting square.  However, all future arrays only need to be touching an existing array on one side.

3.  Player two rolls next and continues in the same fashion, but from their corner. 

4.  If a player cannot create an array because there is no space left, they lose a turn.  The player to capture the most squares wins! 

4.  MULTIPLICATION INVESTIGATION


I made these puzzles to really challenge some of my students who felt they had "mastered" their multiplication facts.  It's been a great way to combine their logical reasoning skills with their knowledge of math facts.  Here's how we play in my class.


I have written the digits 0-9 on little square tiles.  Since items get lost or misplaced OFTEN when students are responsible for clean-up, I have students place them in order on the top of their board.  This way, they can tell right off the bat if they are missing any.  Then it's time to get to work!


Students have to place ALL tiles down to make ALL of the multiplication sentences true.  There are often multiple options for a single multiplication sentence (e.g. __ x 4 = __2 could be 3 x 4 =12 or 8 x 4 = 32).  However, there is only one way to make all of them true!  Their faces when they finally figure it out are PRICELESS!  

5.  DOMINOES


This is one of those activities that I modified from first grade.  My students used to love using dominoes, so I gave it a shot with third graders. What do you know? Third graders love them too!  This is a great independent center for kids who really want some privacy as they practice their facts, as well as those who like selecting the facts they work with.

6.  FACT FAMILY BONDS


I nabbed this from my addition and subtraction fact family binder.  Again, the familiarity of this kind of activity helped many of my students feel confident enough to start making the connection between multiplication and division. Just add dice!

7.  FLIP & COMPARE (otherwise known as WAR)


This popular card game can easily be turned into a multiplication center.  What's better?  It can be quickly modified by adding or removing larger numbers to/from the deck.  I like have students use this recording page because it supports the notation of multiplication sentences, as well as provides me with a record of what the students worked on that day (or in teacher terms, there is more accountability for actually playing the game!)

8.  BUMP!


Every single student in my class LOVES this game!  It's simple, but awesome!  Here's how you play:

1.   Player 1 rolls 2 dice.  Take the sum of the two numbers and multiply it by three.,
2.  Player 1 places their counter on that number on the game  board.
3.  Player 2 rolls.
4.  If Player 2 rolls a number that Player 1 has taken, Player 2 may “bump” 
     Player 1’s counter off of the board and put their counter in its place.

As if "bumping" your friend off their spot isn't the most enjoyable feeling in the world… nothing beats "locking your spot!"


5.  If a player rolls a number that THEY have already taken, they may place a second 
    counter on that number and “lock” that number.  Their opponent can no longer 
    “bump” them off.
6.  If a player rolls a number and there are no open spaces, they lose their turn.
7.  The first player to place all 10 counters on the board wins!

I love how a simple tweak in the numbers can modify this game for every student in my classroom.  I have some students who work with dice 1-4, so the numbers on the board range only from 1-16.  However, I have students who have mastered their multiplication facts 1-7, and are now working on 8-12.

Students playing the board above are ONLY working on their 8 times tables.  When they roll, they are multiplying the sum of those dice by 8.  Everything about this game is appealing, for both teachers and students, which is why it is one of my all time favorites!

9.  KABOOM!


I used Kaboom! in my first grade classroom in all subject areas.  Whether we were studying short vowel sounds, sight words, addition facts, or vocabulary, Kaboom! fit the bill.  It's quick and easy to make and can have a flexible number of players (Usually 2-5.)  All you need are some popsicle sticks and a cup.  I am partial to using Crystal Light canisters, because they become a cup and storage container in one!


The game is relatively simple.  Write different multiplication sentences (4 x 5) at the bottom of each popsicle stick.  For every 10-15 sentences you write, write the word KABOOM! on one popsicle stick. (I like to put between 30-40 sticks in, plus 3-4 Kaboom sticks.)  You can easily tailor this game to any level, simply by varying the multiplication sentences.  The set above is for working with factors 2-6.  I also have sets that only work on 1-3, and others that focus on 7-9 and 10-12.

Put all of the popsicle sticks in face down so students can't see what is written on them.  Here's how to play:

1.  Fist student pulls out a popsicle stick.

2.  If a multiplication sentence is written on it, they read the sentence and then provide their answer.  If their answer is correct (determined either by a reference sheet or their peers) they get to keep the popsicle stuck.  If they answer it incorrectly, the stick must go back in the cup.

3.  The students continue around the circle, selecting one popsicle stick at a time and answering their question.

4.  Any student who pulls a KABOOM! stick has to place all of popsicle sticks they have accumulated back into the cup, leaving them with zero.  (It may sound harsh, but it happens OFTEN, so all students will at some point get "Kaboomed!"

5.  The game NEVER ENDS because eventually someone will get a Kaboom! and their popsicle sticks will go back into the cup to keep the game going.

10.  PLACE MAT ARRAYS



I picked these square place mats up for $1 each, and it has proven to be a great investment.  For some of my kiddos who learn through movement, this activity has been a great help!  I typically let one or two students work out in the hallway with these mats and let them create giant arrays.  They are responsible for writing their multiplication sentences on white boards, and they love taking pictures of their work with an iPad or camera.  It's a great intro to multiplication, as well as a great way for students to start recognizing multiple factors for a single product!

You can find many of these activities over at my TpT Store, or by clicking on the images below.




I hope you enjoyed your tour through some of my favorite centers!  Please feel free to share any of yours in the comments below :) I'm always looking for new ideas.  Thank you for stopping by!

11 comments:

  1. So glad you linked up on the Liebster Blogger page, Jillian! That's how I found this great post! I'm a kindergarten teacher and we don't teach multiplication... yet... but I'm passing your page link on to the third-sixth grade teachers I know. You have a great variety of strategies here! Thanks. See you around, Kathleen Kidpeople Classroom

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just entered my email on your side bar widget that says "follow by email" and it says that you don't have follow by email embedded. ): Is there another option?

    Lovin this Multiplication Center Pack! And thanks for the freebie! Off to your TPT store. Thanks again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vanessa! I am in the process of switching over to WordPress, so some options will be limited for the time being. You can always reach me at StarrSpangledPlanner@gmail.com if you need anything :) I'm so glad you love the Multiplication Center Pack! Thank you so much for your kind words and support!

      Delete
  3. Thank you so much for sharing your resources. It looks like the transparent counters you use for BUMP! are stackable. Can you tell me where you bought those?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so very welcome! I purchased the stackable counters at Lakeshore Learning (available online and in stores!)

      Delete
  4. AMAZING ideas! thanks so much, I just know my kiddos will enjoy all of these activities! Can't wait to begin!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is really great! I LOVE your fun & MEANINGFUL practice ideas!! Especially those little array cities. :) How creative!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You have some awesome and creative ideas for math! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What year group is this for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used these for my third graders, but I would imagine you could use some of them for second graders needing enrichment, or fourth graders needing some review.

      Delete
  8. Hi I brought and downloaded this multiplication pack but when i print it only parts of each page print , do you know why this might be? For example array capture only prints the border ? really want to use this resource any help much appreciated .

    ReplyDelete