Multiply Around the House - Grades 1 - 3
Updated: Apr 21
Many young kids enjoy organizing things around the house. You can tap into this natural interest to keep your child busy and begin building understanding of multiplication at the same time. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Take stock of stuff:
Ask your child to do an inventory of all the shoes in your closets. How many shoes are there? How many pairs?
Going back and forth between counting shoes and counting pairs of shoes might be challenging for your child at first. This is because your child is learning a big mathematical idea called unitizing. That’s the ability to count groups, like pairs of shoes, as if they were single items. Sounds easy, but it’s definitely not at first for kids. Unitizing takes time to develop and tasks like this will help. Start with a small closet of shoes and count with your child if needed.
See my post Multiplication: What Does Your Child Need to Learn? to find out more about what unitizing is and why it’s so important to multiplication.
Give your child more practice organizing socks or other objects that come in pairs. Encourage them to record their inventory on sticky notes or make a chart.
Now, extend this idea to other items that come in bigger groups...
How about packs of juice boxes – How many packs? How many juice boxes?
Or silverware? How many full sets do we have? How many pieces of cutlery is that?
Take a look around your house. What do you have that comes in packs or sets?
Packing and Sharing Tasks
Ask your child to help you figure out answers to problems like the ones below. Let your child's interests be your guide. These problems get your child working with equal sized groups. Equal group problems build understanding of how quantities can be organized multiplicatively.
Encourage your child to use objects or draw pictures to represent the items in the problem if you don't have the actual items. Representing problems is part of mathematical proficiency.
Bunches of bananas: Show your child a bunch of bananas. Ask "How many bananas would we have have if we bought 2 bunches the same size. How about 4 bunches?"
Baking cookies: "I’m going to make a batch of cookies. How many do you think I can fit on the tray if I put five cookies in each row, like this?"
Show your child the tray and use objects to represent cookies. Play doh is a fun choice for this task.
Sharing cookies: "If I make 24 cookies, and we share them equally with each family member, how many will we each get?" You might want to choose a number of cookies that works equally for your family size. Or let your child puzzle out what to do with the extra cookies.
Cutting brownies or other pan treats: Ask your child to help you figure out a way to cut up the tray of brownies so the brownies are equal sizes. Essentially you will be creating an array in the brownie pan. Then ask them to figure out how many brownies there are all together. Encourage them to use groups that they see in the array to try to figure this out rather than counting by ones, if they are able.
What’s in my piggy bank: Give them a collection of quarters and ask them to figure out how many dollars it makes. Do the same with dimes. Ask them to make a t-chart to help other people know how to exchange quarters for dollars.
If you have other ideas for problems around the house, please share!