Using Array Cards to Teach Multiplication Facts

What are array cards?
Array flash cards are just like regular flash cards that have the regular "times table" on one side and the product or "answer" on the back.  The difference is that array cards also have an array showing the factors as rows and columns.  So, an array card for 5 x 9 has a rectangle with 5 rows of 9, or 45 total squares.  The product 45 is on the back.  You can make your own, have the kids make them, or save time and get them here.

Why use array cards instead of regular flash cards?
- The rows and columns provide the critical link between repeated addition and multiplication.
- They allow for flexible thinking and multiple strategies.  Using a 5x3 array, students can count by 5s or by 3s.  Or, they can find 5x2 and add one more 5.
- Arrays help students visualize the Commutative Property and see why 4 x 8 has the same product as 8 x 4.
- They provide support for learning both basic and more complex multiplication facts.  Once students understand repeated addition, single digit multiplication, and the Commutative Property, arrays can be used to model multi-digit factors and the Distributive Property as well.
- In an array, the product is basically the area of the rectangle, which helps students connect geometry and number operations.

Managing the array cards:  (this strategy works just as well for regular flash cards, too!)
-I give each student two quart-size plastic baggies, each with their name on it.  One is labeled "Facts I Know" and the other is "Facts to Practice."

-They also get a complete set of flash cards with the arrays on one side and the products on the back.  I like to use bright-colored paper to mitigate the potential of them getting lost.

-Once each week, we partner up and quiz each other.  If a students gets the fact correct in five seconds or less (I figure, when we get to multi-digit multiplication, 5 seconds is about the time it takes for them to lost their place because they spent too long figuring out the math fact), they put a pencil check mark on it and put it in the "Facts I Know" baggie (which stays in their desk).  If they get it wrong or can't get it in time, they erase any previous checks on it and put it in the "Facts to Practice" baggie (which goes home every night for at least 5 minutes of practice).
-I like to rotate the partners each week so that the quizzing is as consistent and fair as possible.
-If some students finish quizzing each other early, they can use that time to help each other study their facts or play one of the array games listed below.
-Once a card has 3 checks on it (meaning the student has gotten it right for 3 weeks in a row),  it goes in the recycling bin.  We have a corny little ceremony at the end of our weekly partner quizzes- someone comes around with the bin and everyone sings, "Na-na na-na, na-na na-na, hey, hey, GOODBYE!" as they toss in their learned facts.  I have no clue how it started, but it's a tradition now.

Good luck!  For more (FREE!) ideas, follow the Making Multiplication Meaningful Pinterest board!

Happy (Multiplication Fact) Teaching!!

Christine Cadalzo