It makes a great difference in cognitive achievement whether children just know multiplication facts by heart or whether they are able to figure out basic multiplications. If education supports the development of informal thinking strategies, children become so skilled at this, that the border between ‘figuring out’ and ‘knowing by heart’ will gradually disappear. – Hans Heege
Many children approach multiplication with dread: there’s many multiplication problems to memorize, and often, students don’t have a solid concept for what multiplying really means. You can play these fun multiplication games with your child to deepen your child’s relationship with multiplication (and enrich your relationship as well!).
What’s My Factor? A three player card game
You will need a deck of cards. Ace = 1, jack = 11, queen = 12 and king = 13.
1. Two players each draw one card from the deck. Without looking at their cards, each player must place the card on his or her forehead, so that the other players can see the card’s value.
2. The third, cardless player looks at the two cards on the others’ foreheads and multiplies the cards’ values together, saying, “The product of your two cards is ______.”
3. Players 1 and 2 then try to figure out the card on their foreheads, alternating guesses.
4. The first player to figure out his or her card number wins 2 points. The other player gets a point when he or she figures out his or her number.
(a) If the product is incorrect, the players with cards must come up with all of the factors that make that product. For example, if the cardless player says “The product of your two cards is 28” when the cards are a four and a six, the players with cards must come up with all of the factors – 1, 28; 2, 14; 4,7.
(b) The player that comes up with the most factors gets two points and the one that comes up with fewer factors gets one point.
(c) The player that called out the incorrect product must repeat the multiplication problem, with the correct product this time.
5. Deal a new hand, rotating who gets cards. Take turns until the deck is exhausted (Bonus question: 52 divided by 3 = how many rounds?)
For two players: To modify this game, draw one card and place on the table top. One player draws a second card and places it on his or her forehead and must determine the card value. The second player must help the first by revealing the product of the cards. The winner is the person who takes the least amount of time to figure out all of the cards they’ve drawn.
For younger players, remove the jacks, queens and kings from the deck.
For discussion: After playing this activity, you might want to ask your kids some questions such as:
• Do you think we can make the game more challenging? If so, how?
• Do you think we could play a similar game, but make it about a different kind of math? If so, what?
Multiplication Battleship: A two player board game
Each player needs a folder or other divider (manila folder, two pocket folder, or similar), twenty coins (any kind will do), and a 12×12 multiplication chart (Don’t have one? Make it!).
1. To set up the game, each person must shield his or her territory (multiplication chart) from the other player with his or her folder.
2. Then each player must place five ships (coins) in his or her protected territory with the following lengths:
• 2 coins long
• 3 coins long
• 4 coins long
• 5 coins long
• 6 coins long
3. The tallest player goes first (because someone has to!)and calls out a multiplication problem, for example, “5 x 6”. This player is known as “the caller.”
4. The other player must respond with the product, for example, “30”, without looking at his or her territory (multiplication chart). This player is known as “the responder.”
5. The responder must check to see if his or her product is correct.
(a) If it is incorrect, he or she must repeat the multiplication problem that was called, with the correct product. The caller gets to call out another multiplication problem for the responder to answer.
(b) If it is correct, the responder must check to see if he or she has a ship placed on that product. The first number represents the column and the second number the row.
• If he or she has a ship there, they must respond with a “HIT!” and remove the ship (coins) from the territory.
• If he or she does not have a ship there, they must respond with a “MISS!”
6. Repeat steps 3 – 5, alternating turns until one player no longer has battleships.
For discussion: After playing this activity, you can ask your kids some questions, such as:
• Would adding more ships to your territory make this game easier or harder? Why?
• Does it make sense to keep track of which multiplication problems you used while you played the game? Why?
• What if you only said the product, not the factors? Would it be easier or harder and how come?
Motion Math: Wings, our latest iOS game for ages 4 to 44
You will need at least one iOS device, such as an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
1. Download Motion Math: Wings from the App Store.
2. Play through the intro level, tilting your bird to fly to the bigger number.
3. Explore new islands to see six different representations of multiplication!
4. Win colored feathers and twigs to customize your bird’s nest.
Tap the bird icon to create a new player. That way, different kids can compare the treasures or colored feathers they’ve won and they can discuss which islands they’ve flown through.
For discussion: After playing, talk to your kids about what they’ve just experienced:
• How many different types of multiplication did you see?
• Which types were you most comfortable with, and why?
• Can you draw what 3 x 4 looks like? Can you draw it another way?
Let us know which of these games your family has played and what you think, and if you have additional multiplication activities or games you like, we’d love to see them shared in the comments!

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