Ready to help your little mathematicians master their multiplication facts? Read more about how I use a monster theme, Math Facts Don’t Scare Me!, with my third graders!

Math Facts Don’t Scare Me! I love fall. I love when the weather starts to act like it is fall. Chicago finally started to experience some cooler weather…just in time for the Chicago marathon this Sunday!!! Anyone running the marathon this year?? One of the reasons why I love fall is because of Halloween! Although I don’t love dressing up in a costume, I do love seeing an abundance of candy everywhere I go. And of course, I love seeing my third graders so excited for dressing up and getting candy! I build on their excitement for the holiday and use it as a great opportunity to introduce multiplication….MONSTER style! I have some outside of the box ideas for how to teach your little monsters how to master their facts, which is a MAJOR component to the third grade common core standards.

Why do multiplication facts need to be mastered? Well, for one reason, third grade common core standard states: With that being said, I pull out all my best tricks and treats (see, Halloween themed!) to get my students to master their multiplication facts! After teaching for 14 years, I learned how important being MOTIVATED is to learning your math facts!

I use a math workshop approach to teach math. My students are grouped based on their pre-test and I am able to differentiate my instruction based on the needs of each of my groups. You can read more about my GUIDED MATH groups HERE. One of the four rotations is “practice my math facts.” There are several options available for the students to choose from, in regards to how they prefer to practice their facts.

I love Becky’s games (from Dot’s N Spots):

I also love Lakeshore Learning and their fact triangles, which they have for all four operations.

Students organize their math facts in their folder. Or, use their flip book to practice their facts.

Some days they work with a partner and some days they work independently. I begin my guided math groups by passing out the “M and M” or “monster multiplication” facts quick check. I teach the facts in the following order: 0; 1; 11; 10; 2; 5; 3; 4; 6; 7; 8; 9; 12. This order ensures that my students feel success by passing the easier facts first, and then build up to the more difficult ones. I like to meet with my students in a guided math group on the special “green carpet.” We get real cozy to get our brains ready for math! Students have one minute to write the product for each math fact. Add for just an added element or fun, I may or may not play the “monster mash” song in the background! I try to make the daily math minutes as stressLESS as possible! Some of my students have HIGH anxiety when it comes to being timed for a math test and I don’t want to add to their anxiety. How can you be anxious can you be when you are listening to the Monster Mash song??! To encourage my students to try their best to study for their M and M’s, I use positive individual and class reinforcement. Below are some ways that I reward my little multiplication monsters…besides just giving them a sticker and an “Amazing!” on their M and M! First up…individual incentives: Students turn in their “old” boring name tag and turn it in for a brand spankin’ new one! Students who pass all their facts are rewarded with an official Mr. or Ms. Mathematician nametag! Can you see how excited she is!?!?! Well, no you can’t really, but let me assure you…she was over the top excited for her new nametag. As an added element of fun, I refer to the boy and girl mathematician as Mr. Mathematician or Ms. Mathematician ALL DAY LONG. The students learn REAL quick that they more raffle tickets they have, the greater the chance of winning they have. Talk about a great real life probability lesson, right!!?!? At the end of the quarter, I pick 4 winners. I fill up a goodie bag from the dollar selection at Target as the reward:

$15 dollars goes a LONG way for rewarding the little monsters for a job well done!

The kids really get a kick out of this one… When a student passes a new times table, I give them my socks with a little note: Your math skills really KNOCKED my SOCKS off! Students take home the letter with the socks and have a chance to brag to their parents about how awesome their math skills are. And for the grand finale…my little monsters take a picture with a monster grin as a fun reward for passing ALL FACTS up to 12!!!!

The pictures of the little monsters are plastered on the Monster Wall of Fame for all to enjoy. Oh! And an important note…I give these rewards to ALL students eventually, whether they master up to their 12 facts or not. I simply reward my little monsters for working hard and trying their best. Now for the whole class incentive! Every time a student passes any M and M (whether it be their 2’s, 5’s, 10’s, so on…) they place an eyeball on our class monster. Once the monster is covered with eyeballs, a class reward is given, such as a Bill Nye the Science Guy DVD, extra recess, or even an edible reward. The class votes on which reward they would prefer. One last component of our Monster Multiplication is the management of the materials. In my teacher binder, I keep track every time a student passes another time table. I DO NOT individually post their progress anywhere in the classroom. I remember being in math class when I was in elementary school and I HATED when my teachers would display where each child was at. Of course, I was one of the students who was always “behind” with my facts and I still remember to this day how I was embarrassed because I was not progressing as fast as my friends. Sure, it makes the “smart” kids feel great. But, what about those other kids???? With that being said, I understand how teachers still need a way to organize what fact each individual child is currently learning. So, here is my compromise. Below is an idea of how you can post the progress of your little monsters…but with a wide range of fact mastery. For example, all students start at “monster in training: I am mastering my 0-5 facts.” Students can then move up to master the next set of math facts. Want your students to master their multiplication facts? All the ideas listed in this blog post can be found in my monster multiplication file on TpT. Below is a file preview:

**Monster Multiplication: Math Facts Don’t Scare Me!**

**This 125 page file includes:**

1. Ideas/files for the teacher to organize a binder to keep track of data

2. Ideas/files for the students to organize their data

3. Creative and outside the box incentives for students to work hard to master their facts

4. Creative incentives for the class to work hard and master their facts

5. Common core aligned

6. Flashcards, assessments- traditionally known as “mad minutes,” and a fact flip book for the students to practice their facts

7. Resources for parents to help their child at home with their facts

8. Lots of posters and tips for how to implement this into your classroom!

9. Innovative ways to track student progress and keep them motivated!

Your little monsters will be sure to master their facts!

**If you would like to purchase this file from Teachers Pay Teachers, please click HERE.**

**Or, save 10% by purchasing directly from my website. **

Chelsea R says

This is such a cute way to get kiddos excited about math facts! love the theme! The first theme that comes to mind is division doctors. One of my kiddos decided division is like surgery because you're breaking up the number and fixing it into something new :)

Chelsea R says

Whoops! I forgot to leave my email! its chelseakayrussell@gmail.com can't wait to try this out with my little friends!

Melissa Kozerski says

Oh my goodness, Chelsea!!! LOVE this theme!!!! I cant wait to start working on it! I am emailing the file right now to you! :) Thanks!

Kaycee Thornton says

I got so excited while reading this post! This is my first year teaching and I can't wait to make multiplication fun for my kiddos. :) I was going to say division doctors too! They could wear head lamps while they practice their division like doctors going into surgery. Maybe when they master their division facts they could win a 'lab coat' of some sort or place an incentive on a lab coat like the monster chart. Another theme could be division dinosaurs if you wanted to stick with an animal creature of some sort.

My email is kaythorn811@gmail.com

Melissa Kozerski says

Love, Love, LOOOOVE it, Kaycee!!! Thanks for the tips! Will send you this file right now! :) Melissa

Karen Ganon says

This is fantastic. How about dreamland division? kganon@sanjuan.edu

brittneykeesee says

Ninja division!! Chop the numbers up into equal groups! Brittneykeesee@yahoo.com

Rachel says

My brain is low on creative juices right now, but I love your monster theme!! Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

A Tall Drink of Water

Sandy Fiorini says

What a great idea to motivate students! I know you teach 3rd, but do you have plans to eventually do something like this for addition facts? My kiddos this year are really struggling with facts this year, and could use some extra motivation.

Melissa Kozerski says

Hey there, stranger! ;) I would love to start addition but I am going to try to crank out those division facts first! I hope you are having a great year and I am sure I will see you around soon! :)

Sandy Fiorini says

Thanks! I completely understand why you would want to do division first. I'm not in a hurry I'm still using some of my old stuff.

Deanna Jump says

Division Detectives :)

Deanna Jump says

BTW….. CUTE, CUTE, CUTE Blog! LOVE it!

Melissa Kozerski says

Thank you so much, Deanna!! :) It is greatly appreciated!!!! :)

JenAbatsis says

I love this!! We are reviewing multiplication since our state testing just finished. Some of the ideas I had never thought of. I like the posters where the students are group based on mastering facts 0-5 and 6-12. A beach theme would be great!!