Alright, so two people sit on a plane. They choose to sit in seats 1a and 1b. As the rest of the passengers board, the plane quickly fills up. Across the aisle, seats 1c and 1d fill up. Then, 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2d become occupied. The plane is at full capacity, seating 2 rows of 4 passengers each. How may passengers are there in all? How many would there be if the plane had 4 rows? 9 rows?
These are the types of real-life situations the 3rd graders have been using as a catalyst for multiplication. Understanding multiplication as a series of repeated additions is the first step. Before we can memorize our multiplication table, we must be able to see 4x2 as 4 two times.
To get more practice with visualizing multiplication, the students worked their way through a series of stations involving multiplication on a farm. Each station presented a situation in which a farmer needed to make a decision. If he has 8 rows of corn, with 8 stalks in each row, how much does he have in all? If he bought 24 bean plants on sale, how should he organize them? Is there another way? The repetitive nature of these types of activities allows the students to make connections and develop efficient strategies. We learned that if we figured out at one station that 4 groups of 4 equals 16, then when the next station asks us for 8 groups of 4, we can just double the total! Tricks like these will be put to good use when we work on fact fluency later in the year.
Little people, big minds.