Monday, March 12, 2007

Using Arrays to Increase Understanding

When introducing students to multiplication, many teachers often use the array to allow children to visualize what they are learning. An array can be defined as a rectangular set of objects placed into rows and columns.

Using arrays is a good method to use when you want students to realize that the order in which numbers are placed in a multiplication sentence does not impact the answer. For example, students can use the arrays to understand that 2 x 4 is the same as 4 x 2.

We, as teachers, must provide students with different representations of problems to foster flexibility and problem solving abilities. An array is a very useful representation to present to students to help them gain a stronger understanding of what is involved with multiplication; it allows students to create a visual depiction of what the multiplicative sentence represents. (Young-Loveridge 38,39).

Another strategy which may prove to be useful when children are beginning to learn multiplication skills is to have them write addition sentences for the multiplication equation. For example, 4 x 6 = 6 + 6 + 6 + 6. Writing addition sentences will aid in making a connection between multiplication and addition. (Van de Walle and Folk 128).


Van de Walle, John, and Folk, Sandra. Elementary and Middle School Mathematics - Teaching Developmentally. Canadian ed. Pearson Education Canada, 2005.

Young-Loveridge, Jenny. "Fostering Multiplicative Thinking Using Array-Based Materials." Australian Mathematics Teacher 61(2005): 34-40.

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