Some math programs that use manipulatives (or images of manipulatives) teach students to think of multiplication problems in terms of rectangles and squares. Area Model Multiplication uses a technique that is related but not identical. It helps students think in terms of place value, breaking numbers down into ones, tens, hundreds, (and beyond). Students learn to break down both multiplier and multiplicand, multiply pairs of numbers, then add the sums of all of them to arrive at the answer.
I know that sounds confusing! The example in the image shows multiplication of 248 x 2. 248 is broken down in 200 + 40 + 8. The product of 2 times each of these numbers is written in the boxes. Students then add 400 + 80 + 16 to arrive at an answer of 496.
The Area Model Multiplication: 4-Day Bundle is actually a compilation of four, 14-page books which can also be purchased separately. The sequence of the four books helps students gradually work from simpler to more challenging problems. The first book covers multiplication of two-digit by one-digit numbers. The second book teaches multiplication of three- or four-digit numbers by one-digit numbers. In the third book, students learn how to multiply two-digit numbers by two-digit numbers. The fourth book expands to three-digit times two-digit numbers.
Once students have gotten this far, they can see how the same technique can be used for four-digit times two-digit numbers and beyond. At some point the technique becomes too cumbersome, but I think it should help students understand what is actually happening when they multiply numbers. They might learn this instead of the standard approach to multiplication or alongside it as another technique. Students who grasp the technique might learn to multiply fairly large numbers in their heads without even writing them down if they are able to keep the individual sums in mind.
There are no teacher instructions since it is obvious what needs to be done. The cover of each book illustrates how problems are solved or parents can jump ahead to the answer key within each book that shows the student pages with overprinted answers.
Students first learn to estimate their answers to make sure they are in the ball park with their final answer. Parents should work with students through the first two pages of each book. The first page is for instruction in the process and the second page is for “partner” practice. The third, fourth, and fifth pages are for independent practice. Page six offers extra challenge with critical thinking challenges or word problems. An exit quiz is the last of the student pages. (Exit quizzes require students to draw their own boxes for solving problems.) The last seven pages of each book are the answer key.
The series is described as a “4-Day Bundle” since the idea is that you could complete each lesson in one day. However, you might find it worth taking a few days if students need time to absorb the concepts. Once students grasp the technique, they should apply it in their other math lessons as needed. So you might have a period of time between your use of each book, depending upon the sequence of learning in your child’s math program.
While this series of book fits with the Common Core standards for fifth grade math, they might be useful in fourth or sixth grades as well… or maybe even third grade for students learning multiplication at that level.