Beginning Multiplication: Repeated Addition

by Laurie Laurendeau on November 15, 2011

When children begin learning about multiplication, they do not jump right into the multiplication facts or “times tables” as some call it.  They first learn about the concept of multiplication as repeated addition.  It is important for your child to recognize how multiplication and addition are related.

Warm Up Exercise:  Ask your child to skip count by 10s (10, 20, 30…100), by 5’s (5, 10, 15, 20…100), and 2’s (2, 4, 6, 8, 10…100).  This will warm up her brain for repeated addition.

Begin by writing on a piece of paper:  2 + 2 + 2 +2.  Take several  Cheerios (or other small objects) and put 2 Cheerios above each number 2 on the paper.  Now ask your child to count the Cheerios.  She may count one Cheerio at a time, or she may count by 2’s (which she should already know how to do at this point).  Once she gets the correct answer of 8, tell her that when she is adding the same number over and over again, she can take a shortcut.  The shortcut is called multiplying.

Ask your child how many groups of 2 Cheerios she has.  She should tell you 4 groups.  Now show her the related multiplication fact:  2 + 2 + 2 + 2 is the same thing as “the number 2, 4 times”, or 2×4.

Try several other repeated addition questions such as “5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5”, or “10 + 10 +10”.  If you feel as though your child understands the concept at this point, you can try introducing other repeated addition questions with 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s, 8s and 9s.  These are typically more difficult for children because they usually do not yet know how to count by 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s, 8s and 9s.

Look for examples of repeated addition in the world around you.  The next time you are baking cookies, point out to your child that the rows and columns of cookies are repeated addition, or multiplication.  You might have 4 rows of 3 cookies, which you can point out is 3 + 3 + 3 + 3, or 3×4.  Other examples of repeated addition might be found in patterns in wallpaper or on clothing.  Let me know if you find some good examples of repeated addition in your environment!

Check out our Addition and Subtraction Math Fact games kit called “Giggle Facts” at


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