Little BBQ has been asking to learn multiplication, so I decided to give it a shot. Little BBQ already has a good grasp of addition and subtraction so multiplication seemed like a logical next step for him. Little BBQ seems to have a way with numbers; he can quickly pick up a new concept if I teach it to him visually and hands on.
Little BBQ in some ways is your typical child. He wiggles all the time and his attention span is short, but when he focuses his attention he can learn a lot in a short period of time. I taught him to multiply by using what I call the bucket system. I told Little BBQ that he has a choice: (a) the first number can be a bucket and the second number can be the number of beans or (b) the first number can be the number of beans and the second number can be the number of buckets.
He told me that he preferred option ‘b,’ so from here my example will use the second number in a problem as a “bucket” and the first number represents the number of beans needed.
For this simple method a child sets up buckets that need to filled with a certain number of beans. For example, 4 x 5 would require 5 “buckets” filled with 4 beans.
Little BBQ used a tablespoon to fill up his buckets because he is a very hands on learner. After working several different problems he quickly began to pick up a pattern. Within 20 minutes he was able to deduce all of the twos times tables and recite them. We have used this method with numbers up to 13 successfully.