Published on March 17th, 2014 | by Julie Finn8
Cool Math Games: DIY Multiplication Touch
Got a kid who’s learning her multiplication facts?
Forget the flash cards! Nobody likes those multiplication fact torture tools.
Instead, build this cool math game to play with your kids. The sophisticated strategy and element of chance involved will entertain the kids even as they’re strengthening their logic skills, and every play they make will challenge their mental computation abilities and improve their memorization of those so-important multiplication facts.
Also? This game is FUN!
Here’s how to build it from stuff that you definitely have around the house:
1. Make a set of number tiles. Use my DIY Number Tiles tutorial, but instead of making the numbers 1-100, make the numbers of a multiplication chart. I find that a 10×10 grid is big enough to play with (although you could make it 12×12), and my kids already know the 1x table, so I made the 2x through the 11x multiplication facts for our game.
As the kids get more adept at their multiplication facts, I can gradually ramp up the difficulty–for now, for instance, our game covers 2x-11x, but as those 2x facts get too easy, I can easily transition the game into 3x-12x, and beyond.
Using a different color of Sharpie, also make the row and column labels for the chart.
Finally, cut out four blank tiles.
2. Make the multiplication grid. Use my roll-up hundred grid tutorial to make a light, portable multiplication grid from any stash cloth or Eco-fi felt that you have lying around the house, or draw a 10×10 grid on a piece of cardboard at least 11″x11″.
3. Play! Here are my rules for Multiplication Touch:
- Set up the 10×10 grid with the row and column labels to create a blank multiplication chart.
- Turn all the number tiles and blank tiles face down, and have each player draw ten tiles. We use Scrabble tile holders to hold our tiles, but you can also hide your tiles behind a book teepee to keep them secret.
- Choose a player to go first. That player may place one of her tiles in its correct spot on the multiplication chart.
- As each player takes her turn, she must play a tile that is both in its correct place on the multiplication chart AND touches one of the previously-placed tiles horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
- A blank tile may be played instead of a number tile. If a player has the number tile that can replace a previously-placed blank tile, then at her turn she may play her number tile and take the blank tile for herself.
- If a player cannot make a play, she must instead draw a new tile from the face-down tiles.
- The winner is the first player to place all of her tiles.
I do not permit my children to refer to a completed multiplication chart as they play (although that’s another possibility), but I do help them in any of the following ways:
- A kid can tell me her numbers, and I will tell her which ones she can play.
- A kid can sometimes (depending on my knowledge of where she is in her memorization process) tell me her number, and I’ll tell her in which row it will be placed.
- If a kid is trying to figure out where a number tile goes by counting on, I’ll show her various tricks like counting on from the last number tile placed instead of starting at the beginning, or skip counting down the columns instead of the rows, etc. That kind of pattern recognition is EXCELLENT for kids’ brains!
I like these fact-based games that combine luck and strategy because they’re actually fun for kids and adults to play, and that element of chance means that, even though I have a strict policy of never letting my kids win on purpose, they still have a good chance of winning! Check out the first photo to see how my seven-year-old sneakily hoarded all the blank tiles in order to get herself to that last, out-of-the-way spot to place that one last tricky tile.