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Back to School: Try these 'real multiplication tables,' a math refresher for kids

Posted August 19, 2013


School has just started for some kids and is about to start for others. So, here on Go Ask Mom, we'll be offering a few math games this week, courtesy of the two local moms behind the book "Moebius Noodles: Adventurous Math for the Playground Crowd." 

I introduced Maria Droujkova and Yelena McManaman last week. They met through a math class that Droujkova taught to homeschooling parents. The friendship eventually led them to collaborate on the book, which came out in the spring. More are in the works. Read my earlier post here.

So instead of sitting your kids down with some workbooks as they get ready for the start of school, try these fun math games. No special materials are required ... just the willingness to look at math from a different angle.

Here's the first one. More to come this week!

The Real Multiplication Tables

Look for multiplication in objects and ideas around you. For example, a family of four eating dinner might find 4x1=4 (table legs), 4x2=8 (hands), 4x3=12 (silverware if each person has a fork, a spoon, and a knife), 4x4=16 (the total number of fork tines), 4x5 (the total number of furniture legs). What other multiplication tables can you find in the kitchen, at a park, at a museum?

Multiplication can hide in surprising places. For example, find units of units in measurements, such as three-by-twelve (inches in a yard), or ten-by-ten (millimeters in a decimeter). Twenty nickels (20x5) or ten dimes (10x10) or four quarters (4x25) make a dollar.

Check out floor tiles, chess boards (8x8) and other arrays. Explore snowflakes (x6), starfish (x5), primrose (x4), and other symmetric objects – like your own fingers (2x5)!

Warning: the hunt for multiplication can become addictive.

Go to the Moebius Noodles website, Facebook page, forum and newsletter to learn more about the book and how to get involved in their online and local programs.



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  • jeweled27 Aug 20, 2013

    Whatelseisnew - I am not sure where you got your information from concerning common core standards. However, my daughter is in common core math and does, in fact, have to get the right answer. What common core has taught her is that there is MORE than one correct way to get the answer a question (i.e. drawing out groups, multiplying, dividing, adding, etc. She does not simply get her wrong answers marked correctly because she can offer an explanation of her solution. Perhaps, it would be a better use of your time to research exacty what common core teaches before you jump to such bogus assumptions.

  • whatelseisnew Aug 20, 2013

    this is all wrong. With common core you do not have to obtain the correct answer, you just need to be able to explain how you GOT to your answer, whatever it is. This certainly will make passing math courses much easier. No longer such a thing as a wrong answer. The student just needs to mark random bubbles on the test score sheet. Then at the end write in oops, I mean print a rationale for how they derived their answers. Every one scores 100. That is fabulous.