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Some may ask “Why would you explain multiplication to a preschooler?” I will tell you why. One day my son was playing with a math set that included numbers and symbols such as the plus, minus, equal and division signs. He likes to put the numbers in ascending and descending order. While playing, he held up the X (the multiplication sign) and asked “What is this?”
When my son asks a question, I usually challenge myself to answer it so he can understand. This time, after hearing the question, I was lost for words. I started to tell him that it’s a multiplication sign and he will learn about it once he gets older. Before uttering these words, I thought a picture would be the best way to explain this concept.
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Here was my process for answering the question, “What is multiplication?”
I cut a big piece of craft paper and taped it to the wall. Then we found crayons and started our quick lesson.
Please note: In order to use this explanation, ensure your child is familiar with their numbers, counting, and shapes.
With the crayon, I wrote the problem 2×3 =. Then I asked my son to duplicate the problem using the numbers and symbols in his math set. He took the 2, 3, x, and equal sign and made the problem on the floor.
Afterwards, I told him the first number(2), tells us to draw two circles on the paper. The second number (3), tell us how many dots to put in each circle.
Then I instructed him to do the following…
- Draw two big circles on the paper.
- Put three dots in each circle.
- Count all the dots.
- You have your answer!
Eventually he learned that multiplication is adding a number to itself a certain amount of times. So, 2×3 is the same thing as 3 +3 = 6.
We kept going over various examples, until he was able to create a problem and complete it independently. I also explained that it works inversely. You can draw three circles and put two dots in each to solve the problem. This shows that 2+2+2 = 6.
He was excited to learn something new and I was proud in my ability to explain this concept to my preschooler!
When should kids learn multiplication?
Telling a three-year-old how multiplication works may seem too early. However, my child asked a question and I was determined to answer it. Better yet, he understood the concept through art!
Normally, children start learning multiplication in the 2nd or 3rd grades. I remember learning it in the 3rd grade. However, younger children can learn how multiplication works if you explain it to them in a way they understand.
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