Foundation of Multiplication and Division

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Your child sets the foundation for understanding multiplication and division in second grade. The first layer in building this foundation is a concrete understanding. He will use objects as counters to create equal groups.

Ask your child: Can you make groups of three? Yes! There are four equal groups of three hearts. What happens if we make groups of four? There are three equal groups of four hearts.

Next, your child will move into the picture level of understanding. Say, “Draw me three groups of four stars.” Your child will draw one, two, three groups. Group one has one-two-three-four stars. Group two has four stars. Group three has four stars.

Now we have three equal groups of four. Cool! Talk with your child about how he divided the stars into three equal groups and got four in each group.

To find the total number of stars, we use repeated addition. He will count four stars plus four stars plus four stars equals twelve stars. Some children will recognize this as skip counting and use the skip counting strategy to find the total.

This is important when your child become fluent in multiplication. Multiplication is repeated addition! If he knows four plus four plus four equals twelve, then he also knows four times three groups equals twelve.

Making equal groups, drawing pictures, and using repeated addition all build a strong foundation for third grade, where your child will dive right into multiplication and division!

And that’s good to know.


Common Core Grade 2 Standard Operations & Algebraic Thinking: Work with equal groups of objects to gain foundation for multiplication.

(2.OA.4) Use addition to find the total number of objects arranged in rectangular arrays with up to 5 rows and up to 5 columns; write an equation to express the total as a sum of equal addends.

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