An successful way to increase multiplication and division skills is with a mastery blast. A mastery blast is an engaging immersion technique to provide students with exciting across-the-curriculum activities to increase understanding, fluency and application of multiplication and division. In third grade I had a week long multiplication and division mastery blast. In fourth, fifth and sixth grade I had a multiplication and division mastery blast for several days at the beginning of the school year. Most of each school day was spent doing multiplication and division activities across the curriculum. It turned out to be a highly effective way to build understanding, fluency and application of multiplication and division, which is so crucial for success in math in the intermediate grades. Here are some ideas for a differentiated and successful multiplication and division mastery blast!
Pretest: It is crucial to find out what students already know, so you can differentiate their activities. The pretest should include facts and word problems. Click here to download a pretest I created. This pretest assesses four different areas:
- multiplication with factors 0,1,2,5,10
- multiplication with factors 3,4,6,7,8,9
- mixed division
- word problems
You may decide how long you will give students to complete the pretest, but there is no need to stress some students by setting a timer. It is important to encourage students to do their best, as you are only using the pretest to inform your instruction. I do not return the pretest to the students, and I give it again as a post test to check for progress at the end of the mastery blast. It is very exciting to see the progress students make in just a few days.
Guided Small Groups: Place students in leveled groups based on the pretest and plan small group lessons according to the needs of the students. Even in third grade I have some students who breeze through the pretest. These students will be working on multiple digit multiplication/division and challenging word problems.
Activities: Provide games, projects and activities for students to complete which will build understanding, fluency and application of multiplication and division. Here are some ideas:
Make Equal Groups – Have students solve multiplication and division problems with manipulatives then draw and write the solution in their journals. Create some basic word problems then laminate the cards. Write different numbers in the blanks with a wipe off pen depending on the level of the students.
- Sally had ______ boxes. She put _______ apples in each box. How many apples are there in all.
- There are _____ children on ______buses. There are the same number of children on each bus. How many children are on each bus?
- Create an array with ______ objects and write the division and multiplication equations that describe the array.
One equation Many Ways – Have students create a poster showing all the different ways to represent one multiplication or division fact.
- Fact Family Flashcards – Have students make and practice fact family triangle flash cards for the facts they need to work on. Click here to download this Fact Family Chart.
- Skip Counting – Have students use this colored number line to skip count through each factor.
- Fact Mastery Games – Card games, board games and apps provide repeated fact mastery practice. You can find a variety of fact mastery games on my website.
- Music and Videos – Search YouTube for a variety of great multiplication songs and videos to get students up and moving as they sing the facts.
- The Big 15 – If you take out all the 1’s, 2’s, 5’s, 9’s, and 10’s from the fact family chart, there are only 15 left. These are the facts students need to memorize. Have students choose their favorite fact from the big 15 and draw a picture, write a poem or a story about their favorite fact. Have students wear their favorite face on a name tag (factors only, 7×8, 6×7, etc.) During the day everyone must call them by the product.
Real World Applications
- Have students create, write and illustrate their own multiplication and division word problems.
- Have students create an art project then write equations to go with it such as this Array City project.
- Have student write how they use multiplication and division in real life.
- Have students research and report on how different professions use multiplication and division.
Click here for many more multiplication and division activities.