How to Teach Multiplication to Grade 3 Students Part 2

In the blog How to Teach Multiplication to Grade 3 Students Part 1, I explored the strategy approach to teaching multiplication to students. Consistent with NCTM recent publications on procedural fluency, “Basic facts should be taught using number relationships and reasoning strategies, not memorization.” For students to have multiplication fluency they need to be able to compute accurately, flexibly, and efficiently. Another key indicator to fluency is for students to be able to use the strategies with multidigit whole numbers and apply to other big ideas such as fractions, decimals, and proportions. In part 2 of How to Teach Multiplication to 3rd graders we will discuss the 5-stages of teaching the strategies to ensure student success.

Students master strategies over time as they engage in these five distinct stages:

  • Prepare- Here, the prerequisite skills and the understanding required for success are revisited and strengthened.
  • Introduce- Strategies are introduced using contextual situations, concrete materials, and pictorial representations to help students make sense of the mathematics.
  • Reinforce- Understanding of the strategy is reinforced through fun games and activities that connect the concrete and pictorial representations to the abstract symbols of the next stage.
  • Practice- Written and oral activities are used to practice the strategy with relevant facts to develop accuracy, efficiency, and flexibility, the core components of fluency.
  • Extend- Finally, students extend their understanding of the thinking strategies to greater whole numbers.

I love to use and find multiplication games to have a greater student impact than multiplication worksheets. Games are an engaging way for students to learn the multiplication strategies while building automaticity, flexibility, and accuracy. In the article, Why Play Math Game? Rutherford says, “Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking as students find different strategies for solving problems and deepen their understanding of numbers.” Playing games is a beneficial practice tool for students to learn their multiplication facts.

Download our Doubling Pathway Activity to try with your students!


Procedural Fluency, Reasoning and Decision-Making, Not Rote Application of Procedures Position. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Rutherford, K. (2015, April 27). Why Play Math Games. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

ORIGO Education (2021). The Book of Fact Strategies Teacher Book Multiplication and Division (p. 4). ORIGO Education.

Andrea Kotowski

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Andrea Kotowski | Learning Services Educator

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ORIGO Education has partnered with educators for over 25 years to make math learning meaningful, enjoyable and accessible to all.

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