How to Improve Third Grade Math Multiplication Proficiency

Third grade math is the beginning of developing big number ideas. At the age of eight, children own a variety of strategies for solving addition and subtraction. They think more logically to solve problems and immerse themselves in more complex reasoning methods. Cognitive shifts constantly occur; they see the part and whole relationship between numbers and how they interact. Strategic thinking games with logically explained solutions entice them. Yet, children in 3rd grade math can become easily frustrated, especially with the introduction of multiplication. Everything they learned about math in Kindergarten through second grade suddenly changes, and now they must develop a new understanding of numbers. As parents and teachers, offering encouragement and support with a 3rd grade math computer game is beneficial for your child to work through this stage of mathematical challenges and develop multiplication proficiency.

All Numbers Have A Place
For third grade children to grasp a better sense of numbers and strategies for computation, try a place value game. In this game, the child packs objects into pallets of 1000, cases of 100, and boxes of 10. Although simple in nature, your child will become familiar with the idea that in numbers, their place determines value. Once your child masters this game, he or she is ready to move on to more complex lessons of multiplication. The game establishes a comfort level while still offering higher order thinking strategies. As the child continues to answer correctly, the game adjusts problem complexity and remains challenging throughout play.

Multiple Pictures
Introduce children to the concept of multiplication with simple pictures arranged in rows and columns, or arrays. The pictures encourage counting and repeated addition in groups rather than counting one by one. The child is asked how many objects are shown and asked to type the number in the correct answer box. If an incorrect response is given, the game shows the child how the objects are grouped. For example, there may be two groups each of four cakes. So, the game displays the problem two times four equals eight. The game also gives the child the opportunity to apply the newly learned skill and fill in the blanks with the correct numbers for a multiplication problem. A box of objects is displayed and a friendly voice instructs the child to type in the correct numbers. If an incorrect number is typed, the game redirects the child. A second wrong answer yields an explanation. This 3rd grade math game further challenges your child to use reasoning and higher level thinking strategies to identify the correct answer for each problem.

Multiple Arrays
Now that your child is introduced to multiplication and practiced the concept in a few games, increase the challenge and explore bigger ideas with the distributive, associative and commutative properties. Your child is given a rectangle; an array labeled with horizontal and vertical values, and asked to cover it with smaller rectangles. Each small rectangle is labeled with horizontal and vertical numbers so your child analyzes and decides which small rectangles to choose and fill the empty large array. The game allows the child to move any size rectangle to the large array, even if it is too large or too small. This exercise helps a 3rd grade math student see how units of a number work and go together, how addition, subtraction and multiplication have a relationship.

Snap the Factors
Using the virtual manipulative Snap Blocks, children look for factors up to 100. This game reinforces the concept of multiplication and strengthens children’s knowledge of the various factors of a number. For example, they will learn how many numbers can be multiplied together to get 36. If the child already knows the answer, rather than using the Snap Blocks, he or she can type the response in the answer box. If correct, the answer transfers to a chart displaying all of the factors of the given number. This game adjusts according to the pace and amount of correct responses from the 3rd grade math student, and if any incorrect responses are typed, a gentle correction and explanation is given. Exercises which work on factor knowledge gives students a foundation for more difficult math later on such as equivalent fractions and factoring polynomials.

Moving from addition and subtraction to multiplication is a challenging task for 3rd grade math students but can be fun and motivating with computer math games that use differentiated instruction. These games adapt to each individual child and offer positive reinforcement and encouragement for future math proficiency.