I started out by reading this book and discussing the idea of groups. The kids in the story end up building 2 snowmen that each have 3 balls. We drew the pictures of the snowmen on the whiteboard so the kids could see 2 groups of 3. Then, we talked about how that would be 2×3=6 and how we could break it down into 3+3 or 2+2+2=6. I also drew a third snowman and asked them, “How many snowballs do we have now?” They could see the groups of three.
Next, I gave them our Build a Snowman File Folder Game. You just stick velcro pieces on the inside of a laminated folder,velcro on the snowman pieces, and give them the question sheet, and they are ready to go.
Now they get to start building their snowmen in the folder. This is a 2 ball snowman.
This is a 3 ball snowman. They will draw more to help answer the questions or you can give them more snowman pieces to help them answer the questions.
Now we can answer our questions after we build the snowmen. The students will start to see how groups are formed for the beginning of multiplication. Some of my students were actually ready and excited about writing a multiplication problem. This little girl said”Oh, I see, the snowmen are in groups of 3 and I made 5 snowmen so I can do 5×3=15 snowballs.”
She also decided to write a problem for the sticks she drew on the snowmen. “I have 5 snowmen and they all have 2 sticks so 5×2=10 sticks. That is also counting by 2’s Mrs. Beckner.”