Multiplication - be careful how you speak to your child

Updated: Mar 5, 2018



The one times table sounds simple, but is a great place to get started in order to understand what the "x" symbol means. It is commonly referred to as meaning "times" or "multiplied by".


Although not incorrect, this does not really do anything to help us really understand what is going on .


I think it is simplest to explain that 1 x 4 means "one group of four". It is much easier to visualise, and even draw.

This can be nicely illustrated with - well - four of anything! (Four biscuits, four paper clips etc)

It is a good way to explain the difference between 1 + 1 and 1 x 1

Its paperclips all the way for me!



If you stick to this language, multiplication will be more meaningful.

6 x 2 means 6 groups of 2. You can see the groups of 2 laid out on the table. Or the animals walking into the arc. Or 6 pairs of shoes. Visualisation is very powerful, and it is greatly assisted by using helpful and meaningful language.


It also helps make sense of that slightly tricky character, the zero.

9 x 0 should be read as "9 groups of 0". Clearly 9 groups of nothing are nothing. No confusion there!