My second graders just finished a unit on the foundations of multiplication. I love teaching beginning multiplication because there are so many ways to help students build conceptual understanding of what multiplication is! Using hula hoops to show the concept of multiplication is one of my students’ favorite activities! It is so simple to implement, and the kids really enjoy being living manipulatives.
This is an example of 4 groups of 3, or 4 x 3 = 12 (the last hula hoop is hard to see). After introducing the multiplication problem 4 x 3 to my students, I laid down 4 hula hoops. I asked my students how many of them need to be in each hula hoop in order to show 4 x 3. I then called on students to arrange themselves in the hula hoops.
When we were done with the activity, it was clear to see that 4 x 3 = 12! We used this activity with several different multiplication sentences. Students then moved from conceptual understanding, with the hula hoops, to pictorial by drawing circles for the groups, and filling them to complete the multiplication sentence. It is not uncommon for students to use these pictures in assessments. Plus, my students LOVE solving multiplication problems!
How do you introduce multiplication to your students?