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    Multiplication facts
    By Kathy

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    We do Saxon as well and starting with the 7's is a good idea, I think. My whole class (3 and 4) have those completely mastered. The way this series teaches the "sevens" is through days in a week. (How many days in 5 weeks? etc.)

    One way my class learned these was by singing the multiples to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?"

    It goes like this:
    Seven, fourteen,
    twenty-one, twenty-eight,
    thirty-five, forty-two,
    forty-nine and fifty-six
    sixty-three and seventy
    Counting by sevens,
    Counting by sevens!

    We sang it a couple times every morning until they learned them and we still sing them from time to time. At first I could hear the kids whisper singing the song every time they were trying to do problems, but eventually they became instant! I also have multiplication songs with quizzes and I have the students try to beat the tape by putting out the right numbers (they all have a set from 0-9) before the tape says it.

    When I taught just third grade I would make charts and had each child make individual flashcards for each table. We would chant through the tables a couple times a day. (Then I would skip around with the fact and they would say the product.)

    One way I check to see if everyone has it is to have everyone stand behind their desk and I just whiz around the class and ask each child one of the facts. (Not in order!) I silently count to three and then say the answer. If they beat me, they "win" and get to sit down. If not, they keep standing and I come around to them again. I usually give them a fact I'm pretty sure they know the second time around so everyone is sitting down in a minute or two. (And no one gets too embarrassed having to stand up for a long time.)

    Some kinds of a display helps as well. I've done "Blast Off to Multiplication Facts" when we were studying space and they would move their rocket up as they learned a fact. (I tested each child individually before I let them move up.) They also enjoy signing "Masters of the ______" when they master a fact.

    We do a short "math break" each day between the lesson and independent worktime. I'm lucky because our gym happens to be free between 9:20 and 9:30 in this school so we have a wide playing area. (This is important for us because I have mostly very active boys this year!) I rotate the games so they don't tire of them.

    One I like is math baseball where everyone lines up next to the wall. We put cones for bases and then two kids at a time come up and I give them a fact and the child that gets it first goes to first base and the other competes against the next student. Every time a child comes to a base, the other one moves to the next base until they come home and go to the end of the line. I keep it moving along so the whole class is rotating through about every minute and a half. The thing I love about this game (as opposed to other drill games like "Around the World") is that the kids who get the most practice aren't the fastest at the facts! The thing the kids love is that they are almost constantly moving!!!

    Another thing I do is put the kids around a large square on the floor. We scatter facts in the middle and then I say a number and a category. Like "10--third grade boys" or "6--anyone who has a younger brother" The ones in that category go in and find the card, show it to me, and then go back to the line. To move things along they have to be back on the line by the time I count to 20. Also, I let children take only one card per turn so that the fastest child doesn't get them all. (You can also say things like--"Anyone with _____ cards or lesss" so those kids that aren't so fast get a turn to compete with each other.) When I'm ready to go back I'll make the "numbers" broader such as "odd numbers" so that any answer that is odd is fair game! I've done this with addition and subtraction so far, but it could work with multiplication I'm sure. (You could have the products out there and say a fact.)

    Speaking of "odd numbers", one of the kids' favorite games is "Odd and Even." I number them off as they come in the gym and the odds face the evens in parallel lines about four feet apart. Then I say a number. If it's "odd", the "evens" chase them. If they tag them before they get to their wall they join the other team. They are really good at this. Recently I've been giving them facts and they have to run depending if the answer is odd or even. That really keeps them on their toes.

    Another game where they can't use fingers is to have everyone stand in a line and I call a fact, say a child's name,and throw a ball. If they say the answer before they catch it they get to move up one. If not, they go to the end of the line. They like it, but it's a little slow for a large class so our latest twist (which they love even more) is for me to get a large bounce ball say a fact, then two kids names and the child who can run up and catch it by the second bounce gets to go to the head of the line and the other just stays in place. The beauty of this new version is that children are involved more and also that I can pair up children of equal skill or temperment when I choose! (Incidentally, if either person ends up on the ground when they are running neither wins. In all these games you have to stress "safety first.")

    Well, didn't mean to be so long-winded! Good luck with learning those facts! (I've just recently concentrated on multiplication drill. I'm hoping my third graders will do as well with all the facts as they are now on the sevens--time will tell!)

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