How to Teach Multiplication to a 7-Year-Old


If your seven-year-old is struggling to understand his or her times tables, don’t worry. I’ve done a bit of research, and there are plenty of ways to help your seven-year-old multiply at an age-appropriate level.

How can you teach multiplication to a seven-year-old? While every student learns differently, most seven-year-olds respond well to games and other hands-on, interactive approaches. If you make use of fun and organized activites, teaching a seven-year-old to multiply doesn’t have to be difficult at all.

Once the basics of multiplications are clear, the following games, tactics, and activities will help your seven-year-old learn to multiply in no time. They might even refresh and improve your own arithmetic skills so you and your seven-year-old can learn together. 

Teaching Your Seven-Year-Old Basic Multiplication Principles

Your seven-year-old might already be familiar with a few principles of multiplication from school or elsewhere. He or she may know that any number multiplied by one equals the number itself, or that any number multiplied by zero equals zero. These are basic and crucial concepts of multiplication. If your seven-year-old is unfamiliar with them, start by building his or her comprehension of these two ground rules.

Explain to your seven-year-old how multiplication works. He or she likely knows already that five plus five is ten, six plus twelve is eighteen, twenty plus twenty is forty, etc. Explain how “five plus five” correlates with “five times two” because five exists in the equation twice. Do the same for whatever sequences of addition your seven-year-old can come up with. 

Make sure your seven-year-old knows the essential terminology of multiplication. You probably don’t need to discuss multiplicands and multipliers—those might be a bit advanced for a seven-year-old, but, hey, you’re always welcome to try.

You can, however, explain that the numbers being multiplied are called the “formula” and that the “product” is the answer to the formula; it’s whatever number the formula produces. These are surprisingly complex concepts, so you might want to exercise them with your seven-year-old a few times. 

Write a simple equation like “5 x 0 = 0.” Ask your seven-year-old to circle the formula and underline the product. Try this practice a few more times with varying equations until you are confident your seven-year-old understands which part of the equation is which.

Make sure your seven-year-old has a thorough understanding of these principles before moving onto elaborate games and activities that might sidetrack your child or focus on not-yet-relevant information.

Teaching Your Seven-Year-Old to Multiply

Once the foundations of multiplication are relatively understood, you and your seven-year-old can move on to bigger and better things—but nothing too big. Remember: Seven-year-olds are still a bit young to multiply double-digits. Most of these activites will deal with single-digit multiplication. 

I’ve compiled a few fun games that will help multiplicative fundamentals stick in your seven-year-old’s mind for years and years to come. 

1. The Bottle Cap Game

The bottle cap game was massive in my elementary school, and while I never played it myself, I have friends who still swear by it. Some even used it to teach their kids addition, subtraction, division and, of course, multiplication.

This one works well if your seven-year-old has a friend or a relative at or near his or her same level of multiplicative understanding. Of course, if absolutely necessary, you can assume the role of contender against your seven-year-old, but it won’t be much of a fair game. 

 It’s a pretty simple activity: Start collecting bottle caps. Plastic; metal; anything goes. Buy some stickers from your local dollar store and slap one on each side of every bottle caps. On one side, write the multiplication formula (i.e., “2×5,” “6×2,” “5×4,” etc.). On the other side, write the product. 

Lay all the tops on a flat surface (preferably a table, though the floor works too) with the products of the equations facing down. Take turns guessing at the answers to the formulae and flipping the cap over to see the product. If you guessed right, you keep the cap. If you guessed wrong, your opponent keeps it. Whoever ends up with the most caps wins the game.

2. Multiplication Battle

Every seven-year-old loves a goodhearted, violence-free simulation of war. Don’t believe me? Teach your seven-year-old this game, “Multiplication Battle,” and tell me he or she doesn’t love it with all of his or her heart (Queen of Hearts pun intended).

This one’s easy: All you need is a deck of cards. Take out all the face cards so only numbered hearts, spades, and clubs remain. You and your seven-year-old (or, as I suggested earlier, your seven-year-old and a justly cognitive opponent) can take turns flipping two cards and multiplying them. Each round, whichever player’s cards have the highest product wins. 

I think the creation of some battle cries to shout out upon winning a round might be in order, but that’s totally up to you. 

3. Rock, Paper . . . Multiply?

Everyone loves a good remake. In this case, I’ve reformed the classic “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to suit our needs of multiplicative learning.

This game is fun to play as a group, but two players will suffice, if necessary.

Ideally, a group of players will divide into pairs. Each pair will play our little twist on “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” They will go through the usual motions, but instead of playing “rock,” “paper,” or “scissors,” each player will hold up up to five fingers. Whichever player correctly multiplies his or her own number by his or her partner’s first wins the round.

Then, of course, the winners will play the winners until only two players remain. The last round will be the ultimate decider of the true multiplication king or queen. 

(If only two players are available, don’t feel obligated to engage in such elaborate festivities. I promise, the game will be just as effective.)

4. Dice

This game is similar to “Multiplication Battle,” but it’s played with some good, old-fashioned dice.

Each player rolls a pair of dice and multiplies whatever numbers on which they land. The highest product wins. 

This game is simple, but you’ll be surprised what a pair of dice and the spirit of competition can accomplish (namely, the killer memorization of basic multiplication). As always, feel free to throw in some prizes for an extra thrill.

5. Waldorf Multiplication Flowers

You might have drawn a Waldorf Multiplication Flower in school. I did in about fifth grade. These could be a little far past your seven-year-olds multiplication abilities, but if you think he or she is up for the task, Waldorf Multiplication Flowers are really fun to make.

Tell your seven-year-old to draw the center of a flower. He or she can write any number between one and nine in the center. 

Next, tell your seven-year-old to draw twelve flower petals. He or she should label each one with a number between one and twelve. (There shouldn’t be any repeat numbers. Every number should be used from one to twelve, and each petal should have a unique assignment.)

Finally, tell your seven-year-old to draw a big flower petal behind each one of the twelve existing petals. On the larger petals, he or she should write the product of whatever number is in the center of the flower and the number on the small petal between the center and the larger petal. 

As I said, Waldorf Multiplication Flowers are a little tricky to make, and your seven-year-old might be struggling. If he or she is having a difficult time, try making your own flower as an example. If he or she still can’t seem to grasp your instructions, you might want to try another activity on this list until he or she can better understand.

6.  Arrays

Arrays are a great option if your seven-year-old is a visual learner. Arrays are patterns of objects that correlate with multiplication problems.

First, find a fun medium. It can be play-dough separated into little pieces, M&M’s, pretzels, peanuts, or any other small collection of objects or treats. (I find treats to be most effective.)

Next, label a few cards with sequences. One can read “4 x 4,” another can say “6 x 8,” etc.

Ask your seven-year-old to arrange whatever objects or treats you’ve provided in an array. For instance, when arranging the objects for “4 x 4,” your seven-year-old will make four rows with four objects in each row, making a grand total of sixteen objects in the shape of a square.

If you’ve chosen to use pretzels, chocolates, or another treat, when the activity is done, you and your seven-year-old can dine together elegantly like the scholars you now are. 

7. Bingo

Bingo, in my humble opinion, is the most fantastic game of all time. It seems competitive, but everything is actually left up to chance. It’s the ultimate game of luck.

In “Multiplication Bingo,” that element of chance is replaced somewhat with skill. Somehow, I think that makes things even more exciting.

Provide your seven-year-old and any other participants with a Bingo card filled with simple multiplication formulae. As director, you can read the products to these formulae one by one. All participants will have to determine the answers to their provided formulas before deciding whether or not they can cross one off. 

8. Egg Cartons

If you have some extra egg cartons lying around that you’d like to repurpose, await the solution in angst no more. 

If you label the empty depressions in the carton with numbers from one to twelve, what was once garbage can now become the greatest mathematical tool since the abacus. 

Place two marbles or some other objects (as I’ve said, treats are generally optimal) in the carton. Let your seven-year-old close and shake the carton. He or she must multiply whatever two numbers one which the objects have landed when he or she opens the carton.

Once again, when the game is over, let your seven-year-old eat the treats. I promise, a little incentive goes a long way. 

Any one of these games will be loads of fun and will help your seven-year-old remember the basic “times tables” for the rest of his or her academic career. Multiplication is a staple in more advanced math classes throughout high school and college, and it’s never too early to start preparing.

Things to Remember When Teaching Your Seven-Year-Old How to Multiply

There are a few things to be aware of as you teach your seven-year-old the basic principles of multiplication and how to multiply single-digit numbers.

Don’t push your seven-year-old further than single digits unless he or she is especially and clearly capable. You don’t want to frustrate or otherwise distress your seven-year-old, thereby turning him or her away from multiplication when it can, in fact, be exciting and very rewarding.

If your seven-year-old seems to be struggling with these concepts, teach them more slowly and in-depth. Don’t rush the process. If necessary, review addition, subtraction, and other primary mathematical processes. Perhaps your seven-year-old needs a greater understanding of these before he or she can begin to conquer multiplication. 

Try not to use any shortcuts or finger tricks when teaching your seven-year-old how to multiply. These were popular when I was young. I used them all the time. Sure, they might seem convenient, but I had to relearn multiplication later in life because I never actually memorized anything or recognized why multiplication works the way it does. 

Memorizing multiplicative series in sequence can be massively helpful to a seven-year-old. This means that starting from multiplying between zero and one, then zero, one, and two, and so on will prevent your child from getting overwhelmed and increase his or her chances of retention. 

Before you attempt the activities in the list above, you might want to make some flash cards to help your seven-year-old learn these formulas in sequence. He or she by no means has to solidify formulae and their answers—that’s what the games are for. Just ensure that he or she gets the basic idea before adding any distracting external factors like playing cards, egg cartons or, yes (unfortunately), treats. 

Make sure your seven-year-old can recall the answers to the formulas both on paper and orally. Practicing multiplication with only a pen and paper can reduce a child’s ability to recall numbers freely.

Consider making a poster for your seven-year-old’s wall or a basic multiplication table. You might even want to make a song that helps your child remember certain formulas and their products. 

Feel free to bring multiplication into your seven-year-old’s every day life. Ask him or her to multiply the blueberries in his or her lunch, the children on the playground, or the cars in the parking lot. You can even teach your child that multiplication is practical when calculating prices at the grocery store or a restaurant.

You might be concerned about teaching your seven-year-old multiplication because he or she struggles with memorization.  Actually, many of the tips and games provided in the article above are stunningly effective for children who struggle to take in large quantities of information.

The games help kids associate multiplication with positive experiences; teaching basic principles allows for a steady foundation to which children can refer; even the treats serve their purpose as far as incentivization. (You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?)

If your seven-year-old still struggles to memorize and you feel like you’ve tried everything, you might want to try finding him or her a tutor. Math is more difficult for some than others, and a little help never hurts. As a matter of fact, I had a math tutor when I was young, and the extra understanding with which she provided me really helped me later on.

Teaching your seven-year-old to multiply might seem like a daunting task, but if you follow the tips and tricks above, it will be far easier than you ever imagined. Who knows? It might even be sort of fun. 

Related Questions

How early can a child start multiplying? You might be surprised to know that there isn’t really a definitive age to determine when a child should know how to multiply. Some learn as early as four, five, or six years old. Some don’t learn until the 3rd or 4th grade. Assess your seven-year-old’s multiplication abilities before forcing him or her to try something that just isn’t possible yet. 

 When should a child start dividing? Generally, if a child seems comfortable with multiplication, he or she will feel the same way about basic division. Teaching division is a bit more complicated than teaching multiplication, as not all numbers will divide evenly, so it’s probably best to help your child at least understand rudimental multiplication before delving into quotients and divisors. 

When is multiplication usually taught in school? Educational curriculum typically presents multiplication in the 3rd or the 4th grade. At this point, most children are developed enough to understand its principles. If your child seems to be lagging behind, or if he or she seems far ahead of his or her peers, consider meeting with an advisor to discuss the situation and learn how the school can accomodate your child. 

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