Every student is different when it comes to learning and mastering multiplication. Some instantly glom on to the concepts while others need flash cards and drilling to become proficient. And some, even at age 10 or 11, still struggle with 5th grade multiplication.
Fortunately, many resources are available to help kids with multiplication. The Internet is loaded with math websites that can provide worksheets and games. Innovative, tablet-based tutoring programs are also available and offer students a personalized, interactive approach to improve their math skills. Furthermore, there are strategies and activities you can introduce to help with fifth-grade multiplication. Here are four ways that might seem unconventional but can greatly assist your child:
1. Split into Two, then Double
This is a wonderful strategy for kids who struggle with multiplying bigger numbers but are good at addition. Consider this equation: 24 x 7. A fifth-grader struggling with multiplication might take minutes trying to figure out the problem in his head. But if he realizes that 24 x 7 is the same as 12 x 7 x 2, if he can answer 12 x 7, all he has do is add 84 to 84 to get the solution (168). By splitting one number in half, doing the math, and doubling the product, he will get to the same place less stressfully. Students can divide by 3 or 4 as well—whatever works best for them to come up with a simpler path to the correct answer.
2. Break It Down
5th grade multiplication is loaded with more complex equations, and some kids toil with conventional methods of getting to the answer. The beauty of multiplication is that there are a variety of ways to solve a problem. Here is one that is helpful for kids who are otherwise proficient in addition. Consider the equation 257 x 8. Unconventionally, this is equivalent to 200 x 8 plus 50 x 8 plus 7 x 8. That’s three easier multiplication functions than trying to determine the whole 257 x 8. For a fifth-grader already struggling to multiply, breaking the equation down can do wonders. Oh, the end result: 1,600+400+56, for 2,056.
3. Shopping Math
Challenging your kids to do math while you are at a store is a great activity at any age. For fifth-graders, ramp up the difficulty by not letting them estimate, instead insisting on exact answers. They must then use the strategies they’ve learned in and out of school to come up with the solution, or perhaps they will discover their own methods. For example, at a clothing store, cute t-shirts that your daughter might like are priced at $16.95 a piece. Ask her to figure out how much would four of these t-shirts cost. She might try computing $16.95 x 4, or she might realize that multiplying $17 x 4 and knocking off a nickel for each shirt will get her to the answer ($67.80) quicker.
4. Crazy Multiplication War
Multiplication War is a variation of the classic card game in which you flip two cards instead of one, multiply the results, and hope for a higher number than your opponent. For an even crazier variation, flip three cards—the first two placed side by side for a two-digit number, the third as what you’ll multiply the first number by. No calculators or pencil and paper allowed; challenge your fifth-grader to compute every answer in his head. Don’t forget to take out the 10s and face cards before playing, and be prepared to hoot and holler if you actually get a war (both players with the same product), which will be really crazy!
What 5th grade multiplication strategies have helped your child?