3 Fun Activities for Teaching Multiplication with Arrays

If you are wanting to find a way to add some unexpected manipulatives to your math centers, check out these 3 fun activities for teaching multiplication with arrays.

One of the trends I appreciate most in education these days is that teachers are encouraging students to find more ways to understand and solve problems. 

Gone are the days of simply memorizing algorithms. Understanding is now the main goal when teaching math.

Students are not just expected to know the answer to a math fact, but the reason behind why the equation works. I love the focus on problem-solving and true understanding.

As it is, I’m always looking for new ways to teach veteran topics. 

That is why I like these new ideas for teaching multiplication through arrays.

What is an array?

An array is a rectangular arrangement of items in columns and rows. It is basically a visual representation of multiplication. For example, if you are trying to teach a student how you know that 3×3 is 9, you could just tell them, ask them to believe you, and go on, or you could show them an image where you have 9 cookies on a tray arranged in a 3 by 3 array.

As students begin to understand what arrays look like and how they work, you can introduce different manipulatives and activities for them to use as practice.

Here are three of my favorite fun activities for teaching multiplication with arrays.

In all 3 of these fun activities for teaching multiplication with arrays, I start by providing students with a math fact. I love using this Multiplication Lapbook while teaching this unit because it helps organize all the tools and notes students will need in order to look at multiplication in-depth. The multiplication lapbook also has math fact cards which work perfectly for the array activities we discuss in this post.

3 Fun Activities for Teaching Multiplication with Arrays

#1 | Build Arrays with Play-Doh

Using Play-Doh, students can create small shapes or balls and arrange them to create a clear visual representation of an array.


Join the Undercover Classroom email community and receive the array multiplication workmat as an instant download!

I like this option because the Play-Doh can be used for other activities in your class. Kids love Play-Doh and rolling tiny balls is great for fine motor development.

One idea we have for practicing multiplication arrays with Play-Doh is to assign a different multiplication fact to partners, ask them to create a representation of the array using their Play-Doh, and then take a picture of their creation to post on the bulletin board or the class social media page.

#2 | Make Arrays with Pop-Its

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” 

Pop-Its have never been so popular. Originally identified as a fidget tool, Pop-Its have become a very popular toy both in and outside the classroom.

Kids want to pay with Pop-Its, so why not make them a part of the lesson? 

To use Pop-Its to create an array, provide students with multiplication facts, and then watch as students “pop” the correct number of rows and columns to make an array that represents the multiplication fact they were given. How many bubbles did they pop?

When using Pop-Its to create arrays, square or rectangular Pop-Its tend to work best. I really like these 10×10 Pop-Its I found on Amazon (Amazon Affiliate link).

3 Fun Activities for Teaching Multiplication with Arrays (Pop-It activity in action with Multiplicatin Lapbook Math Fact cards)
We like to use the multiplication fact cards from the Multiplication Lapbook along with the Pop-Its for easy implementation.

ADDITIONAL VARIATION: Reverse engineer this activity by creating arrays on Pop-Its first and then have students pass them around the room documenting the multiplication fact represented on each one.

#3 | Create Arrays with Stickers

I’m guessing that most teachers reading this post probably have a set of incentive stickers hanging out in their desk drawers right at this moment, so why not use those stickers to practice some multiplication?

I like incentive stickers, because they are just the right size and are very inexpensive. You can easily find packs from the Dollar Store that are in the range of 300 stickers for $1.

To complete the activity, give students a copy of the array work mat and a page of stickers, then just as in the other lessons, give them a multiplication fact to represent with the stickers. 

Fun Activities for Teaching Multiplication with Arrays using incentive stickers and the printable download
In this image you see us using a combination of incentive stickers, a magnetic writing board from the Dollar Store, and the FREE Array Work Mat to practice creating our own arrays.


Join the Undercover Classroom email community and receive the array multiplication workmat as an instant download!

Finding unique ways to practice multiplication has never been easier since we started focusing more on process and less on product. Using these array activities is a great way to instill the “why” into the math while also having a little fun!

Want an even deeper dive into how I think about teaching math facts, check out this post on Multiplication Fact Fluency!

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