Multiplication is a rite of passage. At least in third grade it is. I’m speaking metaphorically of course. Multiplication is introduced in third grade, and it’s an important skill for students to master because as they advance in school, their math curriculum builds on the basic level multiplication skills they learned. This skill doesn’t come easy for every student (and that’s okay!), so it’s important to give students copious and meaningful opportunities to practice. Hands-on multiplication centers and activities are the perfect way to help your students build fluency and learn new strategies along the way!
FREE Multiplication Posters
Multiplication posters featuring zero property, associative property, identity property, commutative property, and distributive property.
What are the Properties of Multiplication Taught in Third Grade?
There are four main types of multiplication properties that students are taught in third grade. Knowing these multiplication rules helps students have a better understanding and foundation when solving multiplication problems. By the end of third grade, students should be multiplication and dividing with numbers up to 100.
Identity Property of Multiplication
The identity property of multiplication states that any number multiplied by one is itself. For example,
5 x 1 = 5
8 x 1 = 8
Commutative Property of Multiplication
The commutative property of multiplication states that no matter what order you put two numbers in, they get the same product. For example,
5 x 2 = 10
2 x 5 = 10
Even in a different order, the answer is the same.
Associative Property of Multiplication
The associative property of multiplication states that numbers can be grouped differently in a multiplication equation without affecting the product of the numbers.
For example, (3 x 4) x 2 = (2 x 3) x 4 =24
Distributive Property of Multiplication
The distributive property of multiplication shows that by splitting numbers into smaller parts, they’re easier to work with. For example,
6 X 8 = 48
6 X (6 + 2) = 48
How Do You Teach Multiplication in a Fun Way?
It is our job to help students have an in-depth understanding of mathematical concepts. It’s not just about memorizing multiplication facts, but actually understanding the concept and applying it to real-world situations. Learning these concepts can be difficult for some students, especially those that generally struggle with numbers. That’s where games and hands-on multiplication center activities for third grade come into play! Your most hesitant and excited learners alike will enjoy learning in a fun way.
Hands-On Multiplication Centers for Third Grade
I decided to take my love for playing games and use it to create hands-on multiplication activities to help students practice the multiplication properties. After all, the best way to learn is to do. These grocery-themed multiplication centers allow third grade students to strengthen their knowledge of multiplication properties while also adding in real-life skills. Keep reading for an overview of the hands-on centers included in my Multiplication Properties Task Cards & Games resource. This resource is perfect for a multiplication grocery store classroom transformation!
Multiplication Centers for Third Grade
Make learning fun with these activities to review multiplication properties with your third grade students!
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Roll a Multiplication Equation
Spinners and dice make every activity better. In my classroom these two things are student approved. For this activity, students will roll the dice or spin the spinner to create a multiplication equation (you can use three dice to review the associative property). Students can use manipulatives or the small grocery food pieces to model their equation. They can use an expo marker to record the equation on the mat.
Multiplication & Division Task Cards
I am a firm believer that students should be applying math skills to real-life situations and scenarios. These multiplication task cards help students understand how a simple grocery store trip involves lots of calculating and math skills! Students read each task card and use the grocery item pieces to “fill the cart” to model the problem. As students fill the cart up, they create a multiplication or division equation to match. My students seriously love “shopping” using the little manipulatives. They can also self-check their answers using the scannable QR codes.
You can also mix this activity up by allowing students to work with a partner. One student will fill up the cart and ask their partner to come up with a matching equation. This adds a fun challenge for your high achieving learners or early finishers.
Equation Strips-Find the Missing Number
Getting students up and moving is a great way to engage them in the learning process. These equation strips are perfect for a scoot activity. Simply put them up on the wall and give students the corresponding graphic organizer to record their answer on. Have students rotate from card to card, reading the equation, and writing down the missing factor on their graphic organizer. This activity is an easy way for them to practice the associative property of multiplication. This activity is self-checking too!
Factor or Product Sorting Activity
One of the starting points for teaching multiplication to your students is introducing important terms and how to identify the parts of an equation. Sorts are great because they help students take note of how things are different. That’s exactly what students will do in this sorting activity as they determine whether the highlighted number on the equation card is a factor or a product. To sort, students will place the equation under the correct header. This product also includes scannable QR codes to help students self-check their answers.
Associative Property of Multiplication Activity
This math center activity gives students more practice by using manipulatives to model the associative property of multiplication. To complete this activity, students will choose a multiplication sentence card and use manipulatives to model the equation. Students will use an expo marker to record the equation on the mat. This is a great independent practice activity or students can work with a partner.
Sort Out the Properties
This activity is low-prep. Simply print off the equation strips and collect five cups or envelopes. Students will read each equation and decide if it’s an example of the commutative, identity, associative, distributive, or zero property of multiplication. Once students have decided, they will place the equation under the correct header or into the correctly labeled cup. This sort also includes a scannable QR code for students to self-check their answers.
This math center activity serves as a fun review of multiplication terms and the properties of multiplication.
Problem Solving Board Game
This board game is a culmination of all of the multiplication properties you’ve taught in class. For that reason it’s the perfect tool to use to have students show how much they’ve learned at the end of your multiplication properties unit! It can also be used at your teacher-led center during math workshop time.
To play the game, students will solve a variety of multiplication-related word problems to move across the game board. This activity helps students unpack word problems, show mastery of multiplication properties, and have fun doing it! Using this at a teacher-led center will help you see what areas and skills your students are still struggling with.
Distributive Property Task Cards
The distributive property of multiplication can sometimes be a little challenging for students. Students will simply read each task card and use the distribute property to solve. These task cards feature a variety of problems including arrays with pictures and equations. I love to give students manipulatves and a pipe cleaner to help them practice “breaking up” the arrays. These are a great task for small groups or centers.
Are you feeling ready to dive into teaching multiplication properties? These multiplication centers for third grade are will surely engage your learners as they become multiplication masters!
Free Multiplication Properties Posters
If you want to try out the posters featured in this resource, you can download them as a freebie by clicking here! Hang these posters to help students differentiate between the properties using visuals and definitions.
Looking for other hands-on centers to incorporate into your classroom? My Classroom Fraction Transformation post shows how to turn your room into an ice cream paradise and have fraction centers to accompany it.