Activities for all ages, CCSS-ready lesson plans, and more.
Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7; 4.NBT.B.5; 5.NBT.B.5
What You Need: For each team, one soccer ball with the numbers 2 through 9 written on each white pentagon.
What to Do: This game will leave your students wondering if it’s time for math class or recess. Create teams of two or three and give each team a soccer ball. Students should hold the ball so that their thumbs are close to their body. Direct students to face one another and gently toss the ball to a teammate. When a student catches the ball, she should look to see which numbers her thumbs land on. These numbers become the two factors for a multiplication sentence. The player should say the
entire sentence aloud. For example, if the player’s thumbs are on a 3 and a 6, she would say, “Three times six equals eighteen.” After receiving a “thumbs-up” for success from teammates, the player can toss the ball to another classmate.
Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.3.NBT.A.2; 4.NBT.B.4; 5.NBT.B.5
What You Need: For each group, one set of number cards (2–20), one plastic bin, three old mouse pads
What to Do: Arrange students in small groups, and then divide each group into two mini-teams. Give each group a plastic bin with number cards in it. Next to it, place three mouse pads, and draw (or have students draw) one operation sign (+, –, or x) on each mouse pad. The team with the tallest player can go first. The first player on that team should draw two number cards from the bin. The player must decide whether he or she wants to add, subtract, or multiply the two numbers, and then hop onto the mouse pad with the chosen sign and say the answer. A correct sum earns one point, a correct difference earns two points, and a correct product earns four points. Incorrect answers do not earn any points. Play continues as time permits. The team with the highest score when time runs out wins.
Line Me Up!
Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.D.9; 4.OA.A.2; 5.NBT.B.5
What You Need: For each group, one stack of multiplication flash cards without products.
What to Do: Provide a stack of multiplication flash cards to each small group of students. Each student should draw a card and solve the multiplication problem mentally. Students should then work as a group to line up their products in ascending order. Beginning with the lowest product, have each player say her complete multiplication sentence while setting the card down. To help structure the groups, assign different roles to students, such as a “fact checker” who checks all of the products and a “captain” who keeps the group on task.
“Slap, Clap, Play”
Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7; 4.OA.A.1;5.NBT.B.5
What to Do: “Slap, Clap, Play” is part rock-paper-scissors and part math. First, pair students and explain how the game works. Students should say “slap” while tapping their thighs, “clap” while clapping their hands, and “play” while creating a number up to 10 with their fingers. (A closed fist can represent zero.) The numbers played by both partners become the factors in a multiplication sentence. Students take turns saying the entire multiplication sentence using those factors.
As you circulate, you should hear things like, “Slap, clap, play. Five times six equals thirty.” Challenge students to play numbers for multiplication families that are tricky for them. This game is perfect for bus rides or to capitalize on downtime at the end of the day.
Pick a Product
Standards Met: CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.B.5; 3.OA.C.7; 4.OA.B.4
What You Need: For each team, one dry-erase board, one dry-erase marker, one stack of product cards. (To make the product cards, number a stack of index cards with products from 2 to 25. The product should appear as a large number in the middle of the card. In the top right corner, write a small number that indicates how many ways there are to get the product. For example, a product card for the number 12 would have a 6 in the corner because there are 6 different ways to make 12.)
What to Do: Divide students into teams. Give each team a dry-erase board and marker, and direct teammates to sit in a circle around a stack of facedown product cards. Begin by selecting one student per team to turn the product card over and read the product at the center of the card aloud. Teammates should then work together to make a list on the dry-erase board of all multiplication sentences that will equal the product. The team gets a point if it comes up with as many correct multiplication sentences as the number at the top right corner of the card indicates. If the team does not reach this goal, it should try again with a new product card. Play continues as time allows. The team with the most points wins.
Kathleen Kelly, an enrichment specialist, and Stephanie Nunziata, a remedial teacher, are colleagues at an elementary school on Long Island, New York. They are coauthors of Super-Fun Multiplication Memory Boosters, a book of games and activities on the kinesthetic approach to memory development in mathematics.
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