According to your math curriculum, you’re supposed to start teaching division. And then you picture your students struggling with their multiplication facts.

Teach division?!?

You’re shaking your head, wondering, what is it going to take for these kids to learn their multiplication facts?

You’ve tried skip-counting. You’ve tried timed tests. You’ve tried songs and dances. You’ve tried all the tricks you know.

And yet, you still have kids counting on their fingers who just can’t figure out what 3 x 4 is.

The truth is, not every student learns in the same way, and not every multiplication trick is going to work for every student. (You know that awesome 9s trick with your hands? Yeah, I have a student who cannot figure that one out.)

The trick is NOT to rely just on the tricks. It’s to give your students REAL strategies that will help them get to those multiplication facts quickly and easily. And they’ll be shocked to realize how quickly they can know almost all of their facts.

Hear me out:

Begin with the easiest facts for students to master: 0s, 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s.

Start with zeroes. The Zero property of multiplication states that anything multiplied by 0 is 0. (7 x 0 = 0)

That was easy.

Move onto ones. The Identity property of multiplication states that anything multiplied by 1 equals itself. (4 x 1 = 4)

Done.

Time for twos. When multiplying by 2 double the other factor. (Hold up two fingers as a reminder for students.) (2 x 9 = 18)

Check.

Jump to tens because it’s another easy set of facts for the kids to learn. By now they might know about the powers of ten. Show them that the ten facts are just multiplying by 1 and then placing one power of ten (0). (3 x 10 = 30)

Next!

Now for fives. Explain to your students that anything multiplied by 5 must end in a five or a zero. You can also relate fives to a clock (and if they don’t know how to read an analog clock, you just found another skill to work on!). The numbers on the clock are groups of 5. For example, the 6 on a clock means 30 minutes (6 x 5 = 30).

If you start with those strategies, your students will already know most of their facts before even getting to the rest!

Try it out. Here’s a fact fluency sheet you can use. It includes only 0s, 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s facts. Your students will gain a feeling of confidence after completing this. Then come back and we’ll talk about teaching your students the rest of the facts.

And that division unit? They’re almost ready for it!