Multiplication popped up in Jacob's math book today, so I thought we'd sit down for a mini-lesson.
The supplies: a box of Mathlink cubes (one of my favorite homeschool manipulatives) and our trustee whiteboard.
I started by explaining the symbol for multiplication, and that instead of saying "times," we could replace it with "groups of." (Thank you Saxon math!)
So for 2 x 2, we would read "two groups of two." Then Jacob would snap the mathlink cubes together, and I would ask him to count how many total.
We then revised our "groups of" sentences to read as multiplication problems (making the connection.) Now, I am hoping that when he sees
2 x 2 in his math book, he will read it as "two groups of two" in his head and it will make sense. It's all about giving the concrete example.
Then we moved on to groups of 5.
At the end, I gave him a challenge by writing out the multiplication problems without the words. Sure enough, he automatically read them as "one group of two equals two, two groups of two equals four," and so forth. I also had him continue to show me with the cubes as reinforcement.
All in all, we spent about 20 minutes on this lesson, and he understands it completely. I am confident that he has a concrete understanding of multiplication that will give him the ability to progress on to more challenging problems. Teaching your kids may not always be this easy, but it's always worth it.