Multiplication (Building Arrays with Bricks)

October 07, 2020

Grades 2,3,4

Arrays are a great way to introduce multiplication in grade 2 and 3. Playing with arrays will help students model multiplication as repeated addition and understand the properties of multiplication. It is very important that we help students visualize and understand multiplication early on so that we build a strong foundation to support the learning of division, fractions and so much more.

Students need to make connections that will help them gain automaticity with multiplication and division facts. These connections come through a deep understanding of the concept and the properties of multiplication.

When we start with multiplication we follow these steps

  • Multiplication as repeated addition (use arrays and area models so that the students will grasp the concept of multiplication)
  • Practice the commutative property of multiplication which says that it doesn’t matter in what order you multiply numbers.
  • Practice the associative property of multiplication according to which the grouping of the numbers does not matter when multiplying a series of values together. For example(5×4)x2= 5x(4×2)
  • Practice the associative property of multiplication according to which the grouping of the numbers does not matter when multiplying a series of values together. For example(5×4)x2= 5x(4×2)

One of my favorite manipulatives when starting with multiplication and arrays is building bricks. They are a fun toy for the students and they allow them to create arrays, represent multiplication expressions, and understand the multiplication properties. I decided to create some printable and digital activity cards based on building bricks to help practice multiplication and its properties. Since many of us are teaching virtually I thought that some activity slides for students to build arrays with bricks would come in handy might even be a fun time for the students.

The printable activity cards can be used along with bricks. The digital ones allow students to drag and drop bricks of different sizes to build arrays and solve the problems.

There are multiple levels of activities.

The students can

  • start by building arrays based on given expressions.
  • solve problems after building arrays for the given expressions.
  • build different arrays for a number (starting with basic multiplication facts).
  • select the correct expressions for already built arrays. (multiplication properties)
  • complete the expressions for already build arrays (multiplication properties)
  • Write expressions for attached brick combinations. (problem solving)

How to use the printable and digital activity cards

The activity cards can be used as virtual manipulatives, for warm ups, practice, assessment, centers, homework, and more. My favorite way of using these cards is to initiate discussions and compare different ways/ arrays of representing a number and solving a multiplication problem.

Here are some samples to get an idea.

Digital Activities

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bricks_sample3-1024x461.png
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bricks_sample1-1024x446.png

Printable Activity cards

Here is a free version of the printable activity cards and a link to a free version of the (google slides) digital ones.

free google slides version

The premium version includes 46 printable activity cards and 100 digital (google slides)

Get the premium version here

For more ideas and activities with arrays and area models check out Starting with multiplication- Arrays and Area models activities (+google slides)

Starting with multiplication- Arrays and Area models activities (+google slides)

Below you will find some of our most popular print and digital activity cards (free versions included)


Multiplication Mission – arrays, properties, multiples, factors, division

Multiplication Mission – arrays, properties, multiples, factors, division

Diving into Division -Teaching division conceptually

Diving into Division -Teaching division conceptually

Divisibility Rules – Print and digital Activity cards

Divisibility Rules –  Print and digital Activity cards

Multiplication Facts Activity-cards (Google slides version included)

Multiplication Facts  Activity-cards (Google slides version included)

Missing Numbers and Twisted Multiplication Tables activity cards (+google slides)

Missing Numbers and Twisted Multiplication Tables activity cards (+google slides)

Decomposing numbers 11-20 using 10 Frames and Base 10 blocks (Printable task cards and digital slides)

Decomposing numbers 11-20 using 10 Frames and Base 10 blocks (Printable task cards and digital slides)

Build fluency with numbers 1-100. Missing numbers, puzzles, games (+google slides version)

Build fluency with numbers 1-100. Missing numbers, puzzles, games (+google slides version)

Representing and Adding 2/3-digit numbers using Base 10 Blocks (printable and digital centers)

Representing and Adding 2/3-digit numbers using Base 10 Blocks (printable and digital centers)

Fractions Activity Cards – equivalent fractions, complete one (+google slides version)

Fractions Activity Cards – equivalent fractions, complete one (+google slides version)

Introducing Fractions- misconceptions, print, and digital activity cards.

Introducing Fractions- misconceptions, print, and digital activity cards.

Check out our free games to start with multiplication using arrays and area models.

Array Battle

Array Maze

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