There are many great math games designed to teach multiplication. Some use multiplication flash cards to help kids learn their math facts. Others offer straight up quizzing alone or with a partner. Then there is the race against time and even group games.
“Quiz Race” is a great math game that adds a competitive edge to traditional partner work with multiplication flash cards. Students pair off and sit on the floor with one student holding a deck of multiplication flash cards for a partner quickly says the answer to each problem. Correctly answered cards are dropped to the floor, but incorrectly answered cards must be returned to the deck, causing a time penalty. When all the cards are successfully used up the pair leaps to their feet. The first pair to stand up is the winner!
In a variation on this, a single student can play with himself or the teacher by using a stopwatch to time how long it takes to complete all 144 multiplication flash cards. Anything less than seven minutes (twenty-one cards per minute or roughly three seconds per card) is fantastic!
“Pass the Deck” is a great math game for students who are still learning the correct answers. Students sit in a circle with a book in the middle of the circle. Play starts with one player holding up the top card from the deck and showing it to his neighbor on the left. For a correct answer, the student keeps the card and in turn takes the deck and shows the top card to his neighbor.
For an incorrect answer, any students who think they know it all race to slap the book in the middle. The student whose hand is on the bottom gets a chance to answer. If he answers correctly, he keeps the card. If incorrectly still, his neighbor to the left gets a chance. (After the third student misses, the answer is read aloud and the card returned randomly to the deck.) Play continues until the deck is used up. The student with the most cards wins!
“Slap Matching” is another math game that is particularly good for kinesthetic learners and students with a competitive streak. It can be played with up to 2-5 students. With two sets of multiplication flash cards, spread one out on a table, answers side up. Be sure that all answers are visible. The teacher or one of the students stands on the other side of the table and holding the other deck, problems-side showing. As each problem is revealed, students race to slap the card with the correct answer. The first one to slap it gets to keep it. In case of “pile-ups”, the student whose hand is on the bottom of the pile gets to keep the card. The student with the most cards wins!
In a variation of this, play with the answers on a table at the other side of the room, while students then race across the room, grab a card, and race back to the teacher. (It can help to have duplicates of each answer when playing this way. This minimizes the risk of ripped cards.)
“Multiplication Grid” is a more sedentary activity useful for helping students to see the relationships between various multiplication facts. It requires one or two sets of multiplication flash cards. Turning the cards answers-side up, students arrange them into a grid as follows: a row of answers to 1’s problems (1, 2, 3, 4,…), then immediately below that a row of answers to 2’s problems (2, 4, 6, 8,…), 3’s and so forth up to 12’s. More than one deck may be needed if the set has minimized duplicates by having only one card for pairs like 3×4 and 4×3. Students will see that columns are forming that match the horizontal rows and that the answer to multiplying a number from the leftmost column by a number from the topmost row can be found by tracing where a line drawn from each would intersect. Try some or all of these math games to help your students learn their multiplication facts.
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