Crafts for Kids

Published on March 17th, 2014 | by Julie Finn


Cool Math Games: DIY Multiplication Touch

Cool Math Games: 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:

Cool Math Games: Multiplication Touch1. 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.
  • Multiplication-Touch-2Choose 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!

Cool Math Games: Multiplication TouchI 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.

She won!

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

10 Responses to Cool Math Games: DIY Multiplication Touch

  1. Tina says:

    Emma and I will be making one of those felt number charts next week for a math project :0) Thanks for the ideas on how to use the number chart!

  2. Penelope says:

    Thank you Julie!
    My daughter is struggling with multiplication and this game seems sooooooo much more fun that the game her teacher suggested. Which involves hurling a bean bag at a child who has sensory issues while calling out a multiplication question and for some reason expecting her to a) not freeze out of fear and b) be able to call back the answer simultaneously.
    Way better. We will definitely be making on of these!

  3. gemma says:

    The reason you put the 1x table column in its so where 2×2 meet there are 4 squares, where 10×10 is there are 100 squares and so on and so forth. It adds another dimension to the times tables. Now the child can count and see why 2 x2 is 4. As well as touch.

    A good idea, could the cloth grid double as a bag?

    • Julie Finn says:

      Ooh, definitely thanks for that! Mine are far enough along in memorizing their multiplication tables that I’m not paying as much attention to the manipulatives that make multiplication make sense, so I appreciate that reminder for other students.

      For a hands-on version of the multiplication table in which everything is to scale, I made the kids a decanomial square (they look like this: out of mat board; mine is to a cm scale, to match our Cuisenaire rods and Base 10 blocks, and the kids assemble it like a puzzle.

  4. Pingback: Latest Cool Math Games News | PortalOfGames

  5. Pingback: Math Teachers at Play (MTaP) Blog Carnival | Christy's Houseful of Chaos

  6. Tina says:

    I know what we are playing today! The kiddo and the hubby love numbers.

    It was funny- while the hubby was in the hospital last week, one of the docs was checking to make sure Jared’s concussions didn’t cause any damage. He asked Jared to count down from 100 by 7’s. I didn’t get a concussion and I’m not sure I could have done as well as Jared did. Then the doc started asking multiplication problems. I hope I never have him as my doctor if I get a concussion!

    At least until I’ve played this game a few times :0)

  7. Sosso says:

    Thanks for the idea! Tina’s message above reminds me of the last time I had a random police control on the road. The policeman asked me to count backward three by three from 20 and I was struuuuuggling. I had to tell him: I am not drunk, I just can’t count. 🙂

  8. Phoebe says:

    Thank you for the idea, Julie! I will do it with my son. We usually use the Multiplication Chart from but you know kids get bored always so I have to find ways to keep him interested. 🙂

  9. Cheryl Hendricks says:

    Where did you find the blank tiles?

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