# Joining Equal Groups of Ones

Focus Developing meaning for multiplication with
the single blocks
ost commonly, multiplication means “the combining of equal groups.” This action is often called “repeated addition.” In this section children explore concrete models and physical actions as they learn to connect repeated addition with multiplication and to develop meaning for multiplication sentences.

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® Combining Equal Groups
Present the following story problem:

There are 3 children. Each child has 6 blocks. How many blocks do they have in all?
Have children model the problem, with 3 volunteers each taking 6 blocks. Ask,

How can we find the number in all?
Children may suggest a variety of ways. They might put them together and count them, pack them, place them along a number line, or add 6 + 6 + 6. Repeat this process with a different number of children taking a different number of blocks each time.

® Writing Multiplication Sentences
When children have had several opportunities to explore equal groups, have them work in pairs to make 4 groups of 5 blocks and find the total. Ask,

How can you write an addition sentence for what you just did? (5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 20)
Tell the children that we can also write a multiplication sentence for 4 groups of 5. Write 4 ǂ 5 = 20 and help them read this as “four times five equals twenty.” Also help them identify what part of the physical model each number represents. You may want to summarize this way:

4 groups

x

5 in each group

=

20 in all

Repeat with 5 groups of 3 and 6 groups of 4. Each time, have children identify both an addition sentence and a multiplication sentence.

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To further emphasize the importance of the groups being equal, ask children to make a group of 3 blocks, a group of 7 blocks, and a group of 8 blocks. Have children write an addition sentence or combining these groups. Then ask,

Can we write a multiplication sentence for this example? Why not?
Once the basic concept of multiplication is established, children should be exposed to the normal variety of story problems in your curriculum. Using the Digi-Block materials to model stories helps make both the process of multiplication and the problems themselves meaningful to the children. Encourage them to record their work on paper and, if appropriate, write the corresponding number sentence.

This child’s picture of 3 girls, each with 6 blocks, represents 3 ǂ 6 = 18

Practicing Key Ideas
Making Equal Groups
Children work in pairs with single blocks, empty holders, and 5 paper cups. One child selects a certain number of the cups, and the other child decides how many blocks they will put into each cup. Working together, children put the blocks in the cups and then determine the total number of blocks (by packing if they wish). Children record their work in a table.

Number of groups

Number in each group

Total

They can repeat the activity many times, reversing roles.

Tell a Story
Present three related numbers—for example, 3, 4, and 12—and have children tell or write a corresponding multiplication story. Provide time for children to share their work so that everyone sees the variety of stories that can be created about equal groups.

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Skip Counting
Children work in pairs and together choose a number that is 5 or less. They repeatedly add that number of blocks to a number line, placing the last block in each group so that it is slightly offset from the others. Encourage children to anticipate where the last block in each group will end. They can then practice skip counting by saying the number for each offset block. Children might also record the skip counting sequence.
The offset blocks mark groups of 5, and children can skip count to find the total: 5, 10, 15, 20.

Assessing Learning
1. With single blocks, empty holders, and number lines available, say,

Show me 3 groups of 7 blocks and find the total.
Does the child • model the groups correctly? • count, pack, add, or use the number line to find the total? • find the correct answer? 2. Present the example 8 ǂ 3. Ask the child to show you how to use the blocks to find the answer and to explain his or her thinking. Does the child • make groups and count the blocks? • find the correct answer? • clearly explain his or her thinking? 3. Present a story problem about blocks. For example:

There are 4 children. They each have 6 blocks. How many blocks do they have altogether?
Does the child • use blocks or add to find the answer? • find the correct answer?

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