Learning basic math becomes easy when we understand why it might be useful in real life!
Multiplication is really an expanded form of addition. We need it when we want to add several things of the same value. This can be communicated to children in informal ways:
It is needed in daily life, for example when cooking, e.g. we need 3 times 2 eggs to make 3 omelettes. We can count 1,2,3,4,5,6 or add 2+2+2, or multiply 3 times 2.
Or, when shopping e.g. 4 pieces of chocolate each cost $2. Instead of adding $2+$2+$2+$2 we can multiply 4 times $2.
When multiplication is associated with real-life situations, it becomes part of the child’s life experience, then the various kinds of doing multiplication on paper become useful and interesting.
Maria Montessori’s colored beads, the “multiplication bead bars” are the most useful learning / teaching material for the times tables.
The bars from 1 to 10 each have specific colors, which remain associated with the value of the bar.
At a glance, we can tell 5 times 3 is different from 3 times 5, even though the product is equal.
For example, we can lay out the 4 times table, and add the equation and product on small paper squares. This is not the best method to learn the times tables by heart, however, it is a great way of experiencing and comprehending the times tables, and learning how to use them in real life situations.
The Table of Pythagoras or decanomial boards: This material is made in the same colors as the beads, and at a glance we can see the geometric forms created by the times tables:
The multiplication of two equal numbers results in a square.
The multiplication of two different numbers results in a rectangle.
The complete Table of Pythagoras / decanomial board looks like this:
You can cut the complete Table of Pythagoras or a specific times table out of cardboard. decanomial cut-out
Enjoy and get creative!