My Favorite Children's Books to Teach Multiplication and Division

Updated on January 23, 2017
cardelean profile image

Cara is a mother of two young children and has taught second through fifth grade.

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This article explains how to use children's literature to enhance the understanding of multiplication and division in your math lessons. In addition to some selections of picture books about multiplication and division, there are also videos included!

Teaching multiplication and division is a skill that all elementary students will eventually need to learn. Of course many learn this through repetition and memorization of facts. While this may work for many children, some children need a little more explanation for those facts to stick. So why not add some children's picture books to aid in the understanding of multiplication and division concepts. Here are some great ones to use for your classroom or for your own child.

Multiplication

The Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumplestiltskin by Pam Calvert

Who doesn't remember the tale of Rumplestiltskin? In this fabulous book, Pam Calvert revives the old tale and turns it into a multiplication adventure. Rumplestiltskin has returned with a vengance. He demands to be repaid for all the gold that he spun ten years ago for the queen. Although this story does not teach the beginning concept of multiplication, it is a fun way of reinforcing the more complex idea of multiplying both whole numbers and fractions. The goal of this story is to help students realize that multiplying by a whole number gives you a larger product because you are multiplying a whole by a whole. While multiplying by a fraction gives you a smaller product because you are multiplying a whole number by a piece.

The Best of Times by Greg Tang

Greg Tang has many wonderful math books to help children understand various math concepts. The Best of Times is his contribution to better understanding the basic multiplication facts. In this great book, Tang starts with a little rhyme and then goes through not only examples of the facts but incorporates strategies for solving that particular fact. For example, multiplying by two is the same as doubling. He also includes some of the properties of multiplication in some of his explanations.

The Hershey's Times Book by Jerry Pallotta

Who wouldn't love the idea of including a little chocolate in with learning multiplication facts? Using the squares in the chocolate bar, Pallotta creates arrays of different multiplication facts. He demonstrates how to build them both vertically and horizontally. He also address how certain combinations create "square" numbers and shows that both numerically and pictorially. At the end he touches on using more than one chocolate bar to extend them to larger products.

Divsion

A Remainder of One by Elinor Pinczes

This story by Elinor Pinczes helps students to look at all the possibilities of dividing 25. The 25th Infantry must march past the queen, but can they in neat and even rows? As Joe continues to be left out, he works hard to figure out a formation that will include him. This is a great introduction for students to think about how to equally divide numbers and how choosing the divisor based on the given dividend will yield a different quotient each time.

One Hundred Angry Ants by Elinor Pinczes

One hundred ants are on their way to a picnic. But when they realize that their single file line is making their venture to the picnic take a long time, the smallest ant suggests that they travel in a variety of lines to make the travels quicker. For example 50 rows of two, 25 rows of four and so on. This book is not on the high end of division and would be meant for younger elementary students that are just beginning to think about how to group numbers. It's also great to relate to money!

Divide and Ride by Stuart Murphy In divide and ride a group of children are at theme park and want to go on a roller coaster. The roller coaster seats only hold people and there are children. The story goes through different options of how to group the children to fit best in the seats of the ride. It is a great story with simple numbers and pictures to add to the understanding of the math concepts. This story is a little on the easier side to teach the beginning ideas of division. Another great addition to the story is that there are ideas for extending the concepts listed in the back of the book.

Division Table for Dividend of 25

Divisor
Quotient
Remainder
2
12
1
3
8
1
4
6
1
5
5
0
You can have students create mini tables for a variety of numbers. They can also draw pictures to represent their thinking or draw arrays.

General ideas for using these books.

I love using children's books to help students understand math concepts. However these books should not be used in isolation. Using picture books either as launch for a concept or for reinforcing an idea is important. If the books are read with no connection, children will not understand the skill that you are teaching any more clearly. So here are some ideas to extend the learning using these books. This is not a complete list by any means. Teachers are creative by nature so I'm sure that you will come up with some fabulous ideas of your own, but this will get you started!

Multiplication

  • Use base ten cubes to build arrays representing the various multiplication facts.
  • Hershey bars of course! Allow students to create a picture of the Hershey bar arrays, then let them enjoy a Hershey treat! Of course you have to check on an allergies and don't forget to have students wash their hands first!
  • After reading Multiplying Menace, the complex issue of multiplying fractions will need to be addressed. So how can you best do that? Again base ten blocks work great. If your student already have an understanding of fractions being a "part" of a whole, then they will have a good foundation for the next step. Start small like nine. Place nine base ten blocks out. Ask your students "What is 1/3 of 9?" Students will then work to create three groups with three in each group. They will most likely to need additional guiding questions to help them get there. Try not to tell them the answer but use questioning to help them "discover" the solution. Build up to larger numbers. Chart the answers either on a class anchor chart or have students keep the information in their math notebooks. Hopefully students will be well on their way to making the connection between multiplying fractions and division!

Division

  • Use unifix cubes to build the different groups of division. For example, start with one hundred after reading One Hundred Hungry Ants and build each group that the ants create.
  • Use counters. There are many cute little counters out there (bears, dinosaurs, etc.). Give small groups of students a different amount of counters. "Build" a roller coaster with two in a seat. Have students put their answers on Post It notes and place on a class chart. Allow each group time to share their answers with the class. Then have a conversation about what they notice about when there are remainders and when there are not. Let your students do the talking, you will be amazed at the ideas and connections that they make!
  • Food! Use any kind of candy (m&ms, skittles, etc.) and hand out a certain number of candy pieces to each student or small group. Challenge students to come up with all the ways that he/she can divide the candy into equal groups, then take it to the next level. Can you divide the candy into groups with one left over? Two left over? Etc. Be sure to have students keep track of their groups by completing a chart or table to track their thinking.

This is just a small list of ideas that you can use to help students understand the concepts of multiplication and division. Remember that you want them to able to see that they are related concepts (part of families). So as you build the multiplication facts, then decompose the facts to show the division. The concrete visualization will be important for many students to see.

Get exercise into the mix of multiplication!

Until doing some research for this article, I had thought about involving physical activity into learning of various content but quite frankly do not have the time to come up with a variety of games and ideas. As I searched You Tube for some game examples I came across this company Exploracise. I was very impressed with the simple games that showed how to incorporate learning multiplication facts as well as physical activity at the same time. Research shows that when you include a physical action with a brain (learning) skill, you are more likely to remember it. So in my opinion, this definitely cannot hurt to try! Below are a couple of clips from You Tube and to the side is a link if you are interested in the the full dvd. I think that I will just have to try some of these with my own students.

How likely will you be to use one or more of these books in your classroom?

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Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        mathscount 

        5 years ago

        nice collection of books

        http://mathscount.blogspot.com/

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        I haven't heard of that one, I'll definitely look into it. Thanks.

      • Danette Watt profile image

        Danette Watt 

        6 years ago from Illinois

        Cara, about 2 months ago I came across a wonderful math book for kids by Richard Evan Schwartz, a math professor at Brown University. He wrote and illustrated a children's book called You Can Count On Monsters about prime numbers and factoring. Check it out sometime.

        Very well written hub with great ideas. I've said this before, you are a caring and creative teacher.

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks Mom, hopefully other teachers will find it useful.

      • Denise Handlon profile image

        Denise Handlon 

        6 years ago from North Carolina

        I agree - well written. Thanks for sharing your knowledge once more. :)

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Glad that you found this useful randomcreative. I hope that this list saves teachers some time!

      • randomcreative profile image

        Rose Clearfield 

        6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        This is a great resource for elementary school teachers! Thanks Cara. :)

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks ktrapp. The more we can disguise learning with fun activities, the more willing kids are to take on and learn concepts that they would otherwise be resistive to. And I'm always in favor of using books and games! Glad you stopped by to read and comment.

      • ktrapp profile image

        Kristin Trapp 

        6 years ago from Illinois

        What terrific ways to teach math and the younger they can slyly learn about numbers the better. So many kids seem to sort of "fear" math by a certain age, but making it fun like you suggest should help this not to be an issue.

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks billybuc, what a kind compliment. I hope that teachers do find the list useful. I find that as teachers we sometimes spend so much time hunting around for resources that it is nice to have some in one place. Glad you came by to read and comment.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        6 years ago from Olympia, WA

        You are a very good writer; you have done an excellent job of presenting these items in an easy-to-understand manner that should aid any teacher who reads this. Thumbs up and great job!

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