Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Arrays: The Gateway to Multiplication

Our first unit is all about factors, multiples, and arrays.  I know from teaching 5th grade that if students don't understand what multiplication truly shows, they are missing the foundation to a deeper understanding of numbers, as well as the key to success with many many other parts of math.  That is why I plan on really spending time this year developing a deep understanding of multiplication, how numbers are related, and strategies students can use to help them if they get stuck.

We first began, as always, using manipulatives.  We have these wonderful one inch tiles that are perfect for creating arrays, but connecting cubes work as well.  We discussed what the word "dimensions" mean when looking at the lengths of each side.  We started by practicing arrays with smaller numbers and built our way up.  Once I felt they understood, I put them in pairs and gave them each two numbers to find all the arrays for.  An example of our work is shown below! (Please ignore the fact that the array she has showing shows 4x5 and is not an array for 18!  She was actually building for their next number: 39)



This activity led into a discussion about why certain numbers had only one array, like 17.  It was a "prime" time to talk about prime numbers!  We displayed the posters throughout the room and refer to them often, especially when discussing multiples, factors, and special numbers!


If you have any suggestions for other awesome activities, or ways I can improve, please leave a comment below!  Thank you!

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