How Important is Multiplication Fluency?

Oh, that is such a loaded question. Isn't it? 

It all boils down to numeracy and number sense if you ask me.  Students need to know and understand how 3x5=15 equates to 3 sets of 5, or 5 sets of 3.  It also means that if you start with 15 items and place those items into 3 equal groups, you have 5 in each group.  I've spent a lot of time trying to help my students create a true understanding of the relationship between numbers.  How do they work together? Which numbers "belong together"?

That was the sole drive behind creating these two lapbooks:

I wanted my student to work towards understanding how numbers work.

Now, I wasn't taught in a way {so many years ago} that valued understanding numbers and the relationship between numbers.  I was expected to memorize my facts.  And you know what?  I expect the same of my students, too.

But wait!  You might have been thinking that this post was going to be heading in the opposite direction, didn't you? 

Here's the thing.  I truly believe there is a balance between the two ideas.  I want my students to understand the relationship between the numbers.  But, you know what else I expect of my fourth graders?  I expect them to be able to recall multiplication facts quickly. Fluently.

When we start longer multiplication and division processes, I need for them to know that 7x8=56 NOT 64. Why is that the one they always miss? 

Enter this great little product from my dear friend, Kristen.

I mean, how cute is that?  And perfect for Valentine's Day.  Numbers go together like peanut butter and jelly, or milk and cookies, or salt and pepper, or {a personal favorite} hamburgers and french fries.

I want my students to know that 6x8=48 and 8x6=48 should be stuck together or "InFACTuated" with each other.  {Love it!}

Truly this is a way to "marry" both of my ideas and beliefs into one.  If students can visualize which facts go together, then they will be able to memorize them more efficiently.  

Here are a few snapshots of our work in action:

First, students quiz each other using the fact cards.  They turned this into a game and loved it!

If the student got the fact correct, he could keep the card.  If he didn't, then the partner kept the card.

Finally, when they were finished playing {I mean, quizzing each other), they went back to their seats to create study guides of the facts they need to practice.

I am having my students get these sheets signed so that parents can see specifically which facts need to be practiced.  It's one thing to tell a parent, "Hey, your child needs to study his/her facts."  And, it's a completely different thing to tell a parent exactly which facts need practicing. 

I'm hoping this pays off with our timed multiplication tests this week!  {And, I'm sure that it will!}

So, how do you feel about having your students memorize multiplication facts? I'd love to hear about what you do in your classroom!


  1. I love this!! I am like you- they need to know their facts! I really saw it this year more than last for some reason (it's my 2nd year in 4th) - how much they use the facts OUTSIDE of just multiplying. For example, when they get to fractions- they have to know the factors to make equivalents/simplify... I love these ideas!! :)
    ideas by jivey

  2. Aaaaaa!!!! I am so excited to see your students using this!! Thank you so much for sharing, it means everything to me that you were able to use this with your kids. Thank you Elizabeth :) :) :)

    1. They LOVED it! I can't wait to see the results on their tests :)

  3. I definitely agree that students need to understand the number sense behind multiplication, but that they also need to become fluent. So many other math skills depend on multiplication mastery. I love how your students are analyzing their own weaknesses and taking ownership.

    Eclectic Educating

  4. I saw the question in your title and I automatically thought, hahaha, so important!! It's such a huge foundation for everything we do in 4th!! They use it for everything and if they don't have that fluency, then they are already behind, struggling, and frustrated!!

    How cute is Kristen's Valentine Activity?!? It's so heeeeer!! I'll have to check that out!

    (I love the sunglasses and mustaches on the kids' pictures!! So cute!!)
    Collaboration Cuties

  5. I teach 3rd grade, and I try to have my students memorize their facts by the end of the year. We do a lot of work with what multiplication means, but every day we review our multiplication songs and rhymes. I at least want them to be able to figure out a fact if they don't have it memorized yet. It is a challenge, because over half the class is still working on addition fact fluency! I will have to check out that inFACTuation activity - thanks for sharing :)

    Ladybugs Lounge

  6. Hey Elizabeth,

    I'm right there with you. I strive for a good balance in my class. We spend a lot of time developing multiplication concepts, but we also make sure we get those facts memorized!

    Teach on a Limb

  7. Number sense and fluency of math facts are SO important. I teach 2nd grade and we start memorizing our addition and subtraction facts from the first month of school. If the kids understand the relationship of numbers with addition and subtraction, it makes it that much easier when they get to multiplication. We play games with our facts a few times a week and each week we have our individually leveled timed tests with a Star Wars theme. They won't let me forget to give them those tests. They love them. Thanks for sharing your great strategies.

    Bright Concepts 4 Teachers

  8. LOVE this! Thanks for sharing.I am your newest follower!
    The Techie Teacher

  9. Elizabeth - email me at -- I have a question for you :)


    mathematically yours,