Multiplying with Mental Math Lesson Plan: Multiplication Blocks Game

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for grades 2-6, students use BrainPOP resources (including a free online interactive game) to practice multiplying numbers to create target amounts. Students will apply a variety of mental math strategies as they multiply during online game play, as well as in a hands-on multiplication game they create with a partner.

Students will:

  1. Use mental math strategies to fluently multiply numbers during online game play.
  2. Work collaboratively to create a hands-on game for practicing multiplication and mental math.

Materials:

  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP

Preparation:

This lesson plan uses a free game called Multiplication Blocks. The game is useful for providing practice with multiplication facts, but does not explicitly teach multiplication, so make sure students have already had some practice with mental math strategies prior to playing the game.

Before introducing the game to your students, preview it yourself by diving right into game play. The basics of the game are simple: just click on connected digit blocks to destroy the falling product block. You can click on "How to Play" for more detailed directions.

You can easily differentiate the game for students by instructing them to click "Options" and then select a specific speed and level of difficulty. We recommend the following:

2nd - 3rd grade Speed: Slow; Difficulty: Easy
3rd - 4th Grade: Speed: Normal; Difficulty: Easy
4th - 5th Grade: Speed: Slow; Difficulty: Normal
5th Grade + up: Speed: Normal; Difficulty: Normal

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play the Multiplication Movie from BrainPOP to help students make connections to prior knowledge.
  2. Project the Multiplication Blocks game for the class to see. Show students how to set the speed and difficulty level by clicking on "Options," and then demonstrate game play.
  3. Model how to play the game. Use think-aloud strategies to show students how you use mental math during game play. You might also want to have a few student volunteers play and share their thinking, as well.
  4. Provide 10-15 minutes for students to explore the game on their own or with a partner.
  5. Lead students in a whole-class discussion about the mental math strategies they used during game play. How did their understanding of factors help them play?
  6. Explain that students will now practice mental math strategies for multiplication by creating and playing a hands-on game with a partner. Pass out 25-50 blank index cards to each pair of students, or give students construction paper and have them create cards by folding and cutting the paper into equal sized squares. Instruct students to write one digit numbers on the cards. Younger students may want to write only digits from 1-6.
  7. Encourage students to work with their partner to create a multiplication game using their cards. They can spread their cards in an array like in the Multiplication Blocks game, then take turns selecting a target number for their partner to make with cards. Or, they can create their own original concept for a game. Provide at least 10 minutes for students to plan and practice playing their games,
  8. Allow students to revisit the Multiplication Blocks game as well as their original games throughout the school year to build fluency with multiplication facts.You might also want to pair students up with different partners and allow them to teach one another their games. Encourage students to talk about their mental math strategies together.