Multiplication is one of the hardest math concepts for students to grasp, often requiring a frustrating amount of instruction and practice.
Why use multiplication games?
Many new ideas are introduced when multiplication lessons begin. Just when students get comfortable finding the sum and the difference, math class becomes all about the product. Keeping up can be a struggle.
But as stressful as it may be, multiplication is an incredibly important skill to develop. One study found multiplicative thinking to be a necessary ability for later success in many subjects. Students must develop a foundation for conceptual multiplicative thinking by understanding and remembering core multiplication facts.
In contrast to the relative short time needed to develop additive thinking, the introduction and exploration of ideas to support multiplication may take many years and according to some researchers, may not be fully understood by students until they are well into their teen years.
The results of another study stress the importance of visuals and concrete manipulatives for increasing students’ understanding of math material. Multiplication games are a great way to incorporate visuals and help students move from a concrete to abstract framework by motivating them to learn more.
Math games are a compelling supplement to regular lessons. Research has shown that combining different teaching techniques — including games — for multiplication lessons can boost proficiency in the subject. Use games alongside other methods to teach, motivate and engage students effectively.
Below is a list of 15 multiplication games you can use and adapt that are either inexpensive or completely free. Explore each category to find the perfect one for your classroom.
Table of Contents
|Easy classroom games||1. Back to back|
|Active games||3. Beach ball toss|
|Game-show-inspired games||6. Jeopardy|
|Printable games||8. Mystery picture
|Online games||10. Prodigy
|Musical games||12. Musical chairs|
|Card games||14. War
The games in this list are best for developing core skills using multiplication facts in third and fourth grade, but most are easy to adapt for more advanced curriculum as well.
Save the examples below to use later, or let them inspire you to create your own multiplication game.
Easy classroom games
These examples are easy to prepare and play. Use them as quick games at the beginning or end of a lesson to keep your class entertained while they practice multiplication.
1. Back to back
Students take turns polishing their math skills with a friendly competition at the front of the classroom. This multiplication game may need some extra brain power, since it requires finding a multiplier instead of a product.
- Chalkboard or whiteboard (plus chalk or markers)
- Choose two students to stand in front of the board facing away from each other.
- At your “go” signal, each student writes a number between 1-10 (or whatever range is appropriate for your class) on the board.
- Choose another student to announce the product of the two numbers (make sure to verify that it’s correct).
- The first player to guess the other person’s number wins the round.
- The “winner” of the round stays at the board, and the “loser” is replaced with another student.
- The person with the highest streak (most rounds won in a row) is the winner.
Tip: If students are struggling, encourage them to write the equation on the board to help them find the answer.
2. True or false?
This game is easier than many other math games, as students have a 50/50 chance of getting the correct answer.
Play a few quick rounds at the end of class, or make a tournament out of it. The choice is yours!
- Double-sided True or False cards
- Split the class into teams and give each team a true or false card.
- Write a multiplication sentence that’s either true or false on the board (or display one on the projector).
- Give the teams one minute to discuss their answer.
- On your signal, each team holds up their cards at the same time to reveal their “true” or “false” response. Every correct team gets a point.
- The team with the most points after 10 questions (or as many as you want) wins.
Why not accomplish two goals at once? Get some energy flowing and improve multiplication skills with games that encourage students to get out of their seats for math class.
These multiplication games are best played in a large open space, like outside or in the gym. The more your class can move around while they play, the better.
3. Beach ball toss
Pass around a “multiplication beach ball” to make your lesson feel like a day at the beach. It’s easy, active and engaging.
- Oversized inflatable beach ball
- Permanent marker
- Write various multiplication questions on an inflated beach ball.
- In an open area, have the students stand in a big circle.
- After each student catches the ball, they read the question that is closest to their right pinky finger.
- The entire class says the answer together and the ball is passed to the next person.
Tip: Split the class into groups and use multiple beach balls to make the game competitive. Each group counts how many questions they answer, and the one with the most at the end wins!
4. Bean bag race
This multiplication game puts a math twist on your traditional relay race. Students work on addition and multiplication at the same time, while using manipulatives as a tool for physical activity.
- Small bean bags, multicolored
- Two medium-sized baskets or buckets (you can also use hula hoops)
- Arrange bean bags on the floor into groups based on color. Each color will represent a different amount. For example, orange bean bags are 20 each, blue are 10 each and so on.
- Split the students into two groups and have each group stand behind one of the baskets.
- Provide a multiplication equation for the class to solve.
- Each group has one minute to come up with their answer and strategy. The bean bags in their basket will represent the product of the multiplication question.
- On your “go” signal, one student from each group will run over to the bean bags. Each person can only grab one bean bag to put in their basket and tag the next team member.
- When the last bean bag is placed into the basket, the entire group sits down to signal that they’re finished.
- Count the bean bags in the winning team’s basket to confirm the answer is correct. If it’s correct, the team gets two points. If it’s not, the other team has a chance to “steal” the answer for one point.
- The team with the most points at the end wins.
5. Multiplication scoot
This circuit course gets students learning and moving in groups. Your class can enjoy running from station to station while you enjoy all the math practice they’re getting.
- Labelled multiplication question cards
- Make your own or use a printable version like this one from Teachers Pay Teachers
- Labelled answer sheet and pencils
- Labelled multiplication question cards
- Spread the question cards around the room to make different “question stations.”
- Split the class into small groups and give each group an answer sheet.
- Each group starts at a different question station and must answer the question card they have, matching it to the letter on their answer sheet.
- When you signal the class to “scoot,” each group moves to the next station and answers the following question.
- The game ends when the groups arrive at their original question stations.
- Take up the questions as a class and see which group got the most correct answers.
Tip: Place different obstacles or activities between each question station to make the game more active.
Turn your classroom into a TV set and channel your inner game show host with these fun, interactive multiplication games the whole class can enjoy.
An ever-popular review game that brings some healthy competition to the classroom. You can easily adapt questions to create the right challenge for your class.
Optional: use a Jeopardy sound clip as a timer to add a more authentic feel.
- Split the students into teams and give each team a buzzer.
- Have one team choose a category and point value for the first question.
- Open the question on the screen and read it aloud. The first team to hit their buzzer can answer in the form of a “what is” question.
- If they’re correct, they get that point value. If they’re wrong, another team can hit their buzzer and steal the points.
- You can keep track of points within the game. The team with the most points at the end wins.
7. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
This is a great way to review material with the entire class. Everyone works together to reach that sweet million dollar prize.
- Interactive whiteboard or projector
- Game template — try this template for Google Slides
- Copy the template and enter your questions to prepare the game.
- Open the first question and read it aloud for your class to answer. Encourage them to justify the answers they come up with.
- The entire class can vote on the “final answer.” Talk them through each question if you need to.
- Reveal the correct answer, and repeat for every question until your class makes it to a million!
Tip: To make it more competitive, split the class into two teams and let them battle for the most points. When one team loses a question, the other team can “steal the board” until they get a question wrong.
Use these easy activities to make multiplication enjoyable while keeping students in their seats.
8. Mystery picture
This game is a colorful way to mix art and math! Have students answer multiplication questions to color a picture and reveal the mystery image.
- Print enough sheets for every student in your class.
- Let your class sit at their desks and work through each question to reveal the mystery image. Students can change the colours on the guide if they want to be more creative.
- Display the pictures in your classroom so your students can feel proud of their efforts.
A twist on the classic game that gets kids involved and builds knowledge of multiplication facts.
- Cut out the problem cards and place them in a bowl or hat.
- Hand out Bingo cards to each student.
- Choose a designated “caller” to stand at the front and read out the problem for the class.
- The caller chooses a card from the hat, announces it and writes it on the board.
- Students solve the problem and mark their card if the product is on it.
- When a player gets five numbers together in any direction, they can call out “bingo.” The first player to get a bingo wins the game.
Add technology into your lessons and build upon class material with these free online multiplication games for students.
Prodigy is a free, curriculum-aligned video game that lets students have fun while learning math. This educational tech tool uses differentiated instruction, so students can build their individual math skills in a supportive, adaptable format.
Prodigy has many teacher resources to help your class succeed. Use the Planner tool to specify material you want students to work on, then keep track of their progress with specialized reports.
You can target many different multiplication skills with Prodigy, moving all the way from basic pictorial representations to abstract or contextual problems. Choose what to target, based on your desired grade level and curriculum, and Prodigy will automatically generate questions to support the development of these skills.
- Tablets or computers for students to use
- Teacher account on Prodigy
- Sign in to your teacher account and select your class- or create your class if you don’t have one yet!
- Click on your Planner tool and select Create, then Assignments.
- Create your assignment by selecting the multiplication skills you want to target. You can also use this tool to differentiate for various skill levels.
- Let your students log in to the game and get started! They’ll receive specific questions that target the skills you selected during the assignment time frame.
Kahoot is a timed online game that’s great for review sessions. Students can use their devices to answer questions and fight for a spot on the scoreboard.
- Interactive whiteboard or projector
- Tablets or computers for students to use
- Teacher account on Kahoot!
- Create your teacher account and log in.
- Look for an existing kahoot in the search bar, or click Create to make your own.
- When you have your kahoot, click Play
- Tell your class to enter the Game PIN on their devices and start the game.
- The game tracks correct answers and speed to assign point values to each player. The top 3 players are displayed at the end.
These games put math and music together so you can turn up the volume and add some groove to your multiplication lessons.
12. Musical chairs
Get your whole class dancing with multiplication musical chairs.
Students answer various multiplication questions each time they sit down. Unlike the traditional version, chairs are never taken away so everyone can answer as many questions as possible.
- Multiplication question cards, numbered (the number of cards should be equal to the number of students in your class)
- Blank paper and pencils
Don’t forget the most important part: music! Try this playlist from missbensko on Spotify:
- Place a question card at every desk.
- Give each student a blank piece of paper and tell them to number it before the game begins.
- Instruct the students to stand up and dance (or walk) around the room while the music plays.
- When the music stops, students must find the nearest empty desk and solve the question. Remind them to match the numbers on the card and paper.
- Play as many rounds as you like. Students might not be able to answer every question, so take up the answers as a class when the game is over.
13. Battle of the bands
Students can be songwriters, performers and multiplication table experts with this high-energy musical game. Watch your class battle to be the best performers while teaching their peers handy ways to remember multiplication facts.
Use this game for more contextual material by getting your students to write songs with word problems in them.
- Blank paper and pencils
- Show your class a multiplication Flocabulary video to inspire them.
- Split the students into teams and assign each team a number (don’t assign the number from the video you showed).
- Give each team 30-45 minutes to write and choreograph a song or rap about the multiplication table for their assigned number.
- The teams take turns performing their songs in front of the class.
- Tally votes from the entire class on their favorite performance. The group with the most votes wins the “battle.”
Card decks may be your most valuable investment for classroom games because they offer so many possibilities. Most can be adapted to any math material.
Here are some ways you can use card games for multiplication practice.
This version of the standard favorite involves each player flipping two cards to find a product. It’s great practice for strengthening core skills by multiplying numbers as quickly as possible.
- Card decks
- Blank paper and pencils (for scoring)
- Split the students into partners and give each pair a card deck.
- One player shuffles the cards and deals them out until the deck is split.
- Players turn over two cards at the same time and calculate the product of their “equation.”
- The player with the highest product keeps all four cards and places them at the bottom of their deck.
- If both players get the same product, they have a “war” and must each turn over two more cards. The winner of that round takes all eight cards.
- Play continues until one player takes all the cards. If the game is timed, the player with the most cards at the end wins.
Tip: Remove high value cards to make the game easier.
Turn card decks into game boards with a multiplication game that twists and turns. Players multiply dice values with card values and compete to reach the center of the spiral first.
- Card decks
- Game pieces
- Split the class into groups and give each group a card deck.
- Tell players to arrange the cards in a spiral for their game board.
- Players take turns rolling the dice and moving their game pieces around the board.
- When a player lands on a card, they must multiply the value of their die with the value of the card. The other players will “fact check” their answer. If they’re correct, they stay where they are. If they’re incorrect, they move back to the previous position.
- The first player to get to the card at the center of the spiral wins.
Other rules can be added to make the game more interesting. For example, if a player rolls a double (where the value of the die and card are the same), they get an extra turn.
Tip: Partner students up (so each pair uses one game piece) to encourage teamwork and help all skill levels succeed at the game.
Multiplication games: final thoughts
Multiplication can be stressful for students, but it doesn’t have to be. Multiplication games help students visualize and process content in a fun, engaging format.
Use these ideas at any point in your math lesson to liven up the classroom and get your students excited about such an important math subject.
👉Create or log in to your teacher account on Prodigy — a free, game-based learning platform that assesses student progress and performance as they play. Aligned with curricula across the English-speaking world, it’s loved by more than a million teachers and 50 million students.