After kids learn multiplication, a typical 4th grade math curriculum delves into factors and multiples. Factors are what numbers can be multiplied together to make another number (e.g., 1, 2, 3, and 6 are factors of 6). Multiples are what you get after multiplying a number by an integer (e.g., 20 is a multiple of 4). Both are important to learn at this age because concepts such as least common multiples (LCMs), greatest common factors (GCFs), and equations with fractions are just around the corner.
Some 4th grade math help might be required if your child is struggling to understand factors and multiples. There are plenty of online resources available, including iPad-based math tutoring programs. Here are some other ideas you can try with your child if he or she needs to conquer factors and multiples:
Skip counting is simply adding the same number over and over to get the desired result. For example, if you were multiplying 4×6, you might add 4+4+4+4+4+4 (that’s 6 times; kids might keep track on their fingers) to get the answer. As you skip count, you also are identifying multiples—it’s an effective way to learn and remember them.
This is a game you can play in the car when you are stuck in traffic. It’s simple: Give your child a two-digit number and ask him or her to list all the factors as quickly as possible. This might be a challenge without pencil and paper, and don’t expect perfection every time, but it does get kids thinking about factors on the spot. You can try this game at home—use two 10-sided dice to generate a number up to 100 from which to derive the factors.
One method kids can use to visually figure out factors is a T-chart. Draw a capital T, and write the number above it. On the left side of the T will be the smaller factors; on the right will be the larger ones. Factor pairs will be directly across from each other. Let’s use 20 as an example. On the left side will be 1, 2, 4; on the right will be 20, 10, 5. Any factor that’s a square (such as 4 for 16) can be written on both sides.
The Rainbow Connection
Another way to derive factors is to create a rainbow chart. Let’s go back to our example of 20. Write the factors across: 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 20. Then draw a curved line from the 1 to the 20, from the 2 to the 10, and from the 4 to the 5. The result should look like a rainbow, and it’s a good way to remember that the larger and smaller the factors, the higher the line will climb. Three good tips with this method: 1 will always be the first factor, the number itself will be the last factor, and if the number is even, 2 will be the second factor.
Challenge your child to use either T-charts or rainbows to create a factor notebook. Instruct him or her to figure out the factors for every number to 100. This will be less of a cheat sheet (after all, your kids still will need to derive factors on the fly) and more of a reference guide that will come in handy for 4th grade math help as well as for concepts, such as GCFs and prime numbers, that they will eventually be taught.
Have you or your child’s teacher offered 4th grade math help on factors and multiples?