Multiplication Tips for Multiplying Multi-digit Numbers

Just when your child has figured out how to multiply across a multi-digit number, WHAMO!  He’s hit with multiplying a two or three digit number by a multi digit number.  Here are multiplication tips to help keep all the digits straight and behaving themselves.

Use a highlighter pen to create neat and tidy columns to keep everything lined up.


My son was frustrated and overwhelmed by these problems.  Not only was he not keeping the numbers in their columns, but when he was adding without the highlighter, visually the numbers seemed so much more complicated.  The yellow rows break up the problem into manageable bits and keep the columns even, an essential ingredient.

I also used a red pen to write the problem while he used his pencil.  This keeps the original problem standing out and unmuddled with all the carrying going on.

It took my son three days to learn to do these problems, mostly because he got frustrated and overwhelmed.   Understanding the concept of the process was not a problem, but doing all that multiplication and keeping it all straight was.  The Saxon Book that we use (I highly recommend Saxon by the way) says that this type of problem allows for much multiplication practice in a compact form.  My kid, for one, was on to you Saxon.  He knew exactly how much multiplication he was being asked to do.

So the first thing I did was to let him quit the first day when he got frustrated, after scolding him for throwing a fit, of course, and never letting on that I was letting him quit early.  The second day we only did two or three of these problems with me walking him through each one.  The third day I thought of using the highlighter pen and he immediately “got it”.  So it was repeated instruction of the same topic followed up with a visual aid that made the magic for him.

Got any math tips to share?  Leave a comment!


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