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Lesson Plans
Making Sense of Multiplication
3rd–5th Grade
Objective Objective
  • Generating a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule
  • Identifying arithmetic patterns and explaining them using properties of operations
Materials Materials Needed
Introduction Introduction

  1. Begin reading aloud Anno’s Magic Seeds by Mitsumasa Anno. (You may want to preread the story and place a sticky note on the specific pages the lesson highlights.)
  2. When you reach the part in the story where Jack decides to bury two seeds in the ground instead of only one, pause and ask students to predict what might happen the following fall. How many seeds do they think the buried seeds will produce? Ask them to explain why. Then continue reading to find out the answer.
  3. Continue reading the story, asking for predictions for the next year and then comparing the students’ predictions to the results in the story.

Procedure Procedure

  1. After you finish the story, revisit the text and ask students if they noticed a pattern in the beginning of the story. (For example, guide students through a picture walk of the multiplying seeds.) How many seeds did Jack eat and bury during the first few years? (He would eat one and bury one, and the next fall he would get two seeds.) When did this pattern change and what happened? (When Jack decided to bury both seeds instead of eat one, he got four seeds the following fall.)
  2. Ask, “When Jack buried three seeds the next year, how many seeds did the plant produce? How do you know?” Encourage students to draw pictures or write equations to solve the problem. (The number of seeds planted results in double the seeds grown. Or, x = 2y, where x is the number of seeds grown and y is the number of seeds planted.) Use chart paper or a document camera to model this by showing the numbers on a horizontal T-chart: 1 x 2 = 2; 2 x 2 = 4; 3 x 2 = 6; 4 x 2 = 8; and so on. Introduce the multiplication formula, based on your students’ level of understanding.
  3. Walk through the story again, asking students to predict how many seeds Jack will grow the next year. For example, use the T-chart to show that Jack plants 3, grows 6 and eats 1. Then, the next year, he plants 5, grows 10 and eats 1, and so on. Help students discover the repeating pattern of doubling the number planted and subtracting one (__ x 2 – 1). Ask, “How does this pattern change when Jack has to feed his wife and child?”
  4. Remind students that when disaster strikes Jack and his family and they are left with only 10 seeds, he does not get discouraged. Why? Challenge students (as a class, in groups or pairs, or independently) to figure out how many seeds will be produced the following year if Jack plants 10 seeds. Have them share their illustrations and problem-solving methods. Point out that when numbers get really large, it is sometimes helpful to draw a picture or find a pattern. Encourage students to recognize the pattern from one year to the next (e.g., planted 10, grew 20, ate 1; planted 19, grew 38, ate 1).

Independent Practice Independent Practice

  1. Encourage students to build on their multiplication and division problem-solving skills by using pictures and equations to find a pattern and solve the problem.
  2. Give students a copy of the Perplexing Patterns reproducible. Challenge students to find the pattern by drawing or creating an equation to help solve the problem. Then ask students to share the process they used to help them find the correct answer.

Learning Extension Learning Extension

  1. Set up a math center to provide your students with additional multiplication practice.
  2. Place copies of the 3-In-A-Row! multiplication cards in the center, along with highlighters in two different colors for each pair of students in your class.
  3. Give students a paper clip and a pencil. Show students how to use the paper clip as the arrow for the spinner: Take the paper clip and slide it onto the pencil. Then hold the pencil upright with the tip in the center of the spinner. Flick the paper clip to make it spin around the pencil.
  4. Have students follow the directions to play this fun, interactive multiplication game!

View the 3rd–5th Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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