Real Life Examples of Multiplication

The switch from working with addition/subtraction to multiplication/division for students can be pretty jarring. With multiplication, everything they have previously known about abstract symbols suddenly changes from straight up just adding what you see to adding groups or rows. While many students can successfully use multiplication, I will often see the writing of number sentences to be full of small errors. I’ve found the best way to clear up those errors is to use really engaging REAL WORLD multiplication examples.

For instance, in the image below, you can see five lily pads with 3 frogs on each lily pad. The number sentence that matches this story could be 5 x 3, because there are 5 groups of 3 frogs. I love to help them make sense of the symbols and numbers by simply labeling that number sentence (see pic below), and then having them work through several examples.

You can have them practice this skill in a few ways:

  1. Write the number sentence and have them build it. Do it over and over, until they get used to the first number being how many group they need.
  2. Build it for them and have them write a matching number sentence.
  3. Give them a number sentence, build it incorrectly and then have them find your error. (THEY LOVE THIS!)

The more practice they get with these concrete items, the faster it will settle in, and the more confident your student will feel!



    1. I love that! I also do that often. As long as the words are matching what’s been made in front of them, I think that’s what SO important. We need to get those numbers and symbols connected to something.



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