3 Ways To Master Multiplication Without Memorizing

By middle school students are expected to know their multiplication facts 1-12 fluently.  However, many students can’t memorize all of them.  In fact, students who are good problem solvers are often the students who don’t memorize, but rather know them through other methods such as modeling, repeated addition, and working from facts they do know.

Modeling

A common multiplication fact that many students struggle with is  8 x 7.   To get a deeper understanding, start with modeling this with pictures. For example, there are 7 soccer teams with 8 players on each team.   Have your child count until they get 56 or a total of 56 players.

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Repeated Addition

Practice with modeling should lead to the idea of repeatedly adding the same number.  Multiplication is repeated addition.  After modeling over and over, students start to realize they are doing this:

8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 56      OR     7 + 7 + 7 + 7 +7 + 7 + 7 + 7 = 56

I tell me students this is fair game and to add every time if they need to.

Already Known Multiplication Facts

Repeated addition leads to another strategy students can do without having to memorize all facts.  Let’s say your child knows their 5 multiplication facts well.  They can use this knowledge to count to the others they struggles with.  Let’s use 8 x 7 again.  If they know 8 x 5 = 40 then they just need two more groups of 8 to get to 8 x 7.   Most students get faster at doing this in their heads.  I will have students make flashcards like these with that facts they struggle with.

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Here is another example:

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