Movie Theater Multiplication: Project Based Learning Tasks (Grades 2-4)

Rated 4.87 out of 5, based on 77 reviews
77 Ratings
Beyond Traditional Math
Grade Levels
2nd - 4th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
50 pages
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Beyond Traditional Math

What educators are saying

Very fun and engaging resource. My son loved doing the project and he didn't complain at all. He looked forward to our time doing math during this week!
This was an awesome extension to our unit on area and perimeter. The students were engaged and excited to learn!


Students are asked to become builders and designers as they make movie theaters! This is an in-depth look at arrays and the conceptual understanding behind multiplication. This is a perfect project for those students that continually mix up the difference between rows and columns, or if they struggle to understand the meaning behind multiplication number sentences. It is also great fact practice as it starts with facts in the 3s, and gets harder as they go.

This entire project uses the Concrete- Representational-Abstract instructional sequence. As they move along in the project, they move along in the steps. This approach is explained here:

1. When a student is introduced to a new concept or something unfamiliar, you allow the use of tools. (Concrete)

2. When the student can perform the task, they move on to representing the concept with drawings or pictures. (Representational)

3. When the student can master the task with a drawing or a picture they move to using only numbers and symbols. (Abstract)

What is in the problem?

There are 4 stages within this giant problem (each stage has between 4 and 6 tasks in it) walking the student through what they need to do. The 4th stage is open ended and is great for differentiating the project. The problems integrate math, reading and a bit of writing. It is challenging, parts of it are open ended, and is a perfect way to practice performance tasks. Everything you need for the problem is included, and the preview has one of each of the first three stages for you to try. The only thing you will need is a material for the students to actually build the theaters. You could use counters, cubes or any sort of marker that will allow them to work concretely in the first stage.

You will notice that the Standards for Mathematical Practice are embedded within these performance tasks.

What age are the problems appropriate for?

These challenges are appropriate for 2nd graders that may be ready to explore multiplication, 3rd graders who are beginning multiplication, and for struggling 4th graders. I currently use this in my 4th grade intervention group, which is a full year behind their peers.

How can this problem be used?

There are many ways you can use this performance task:

* Fast finisher activity
* Small group work
* Homework for students
* Gifted and talented small groups
* Intervention small groups
* Whole class activity

The problem steps and their curricular focus:

1. Stage 1: In this stage there are five problems in which students are given the parameters for the theaters. For each of the 5 problems they:

* Build concrete models.
* Draw representations of those models.
* Connect to abstract number sentences.

2. Stage 2: In this stage there are four problems in which students assign tickets to the movie goers. For each of the problems they:

* Read drawings and representations.
* Connect to abstract number sentences.

3. Stage 3: There are five problems in stage three where students begin to count the number of seats in "mega-theaters". For each of these five problems they:

* Read drawings and representations.
* Connect to abstract number sentences.
* Use known facts to solve larger facts.
* Use the distributive property.

4. Stage 4: There is an extensive open ended element to this problem. This is where the entire project differentiates, as they choose a ticket price (this is internationally friendly-the amount is open ended without a label), and then they calculate the potential revenue of all of the theaters.

There is an answer key at the end of the project. Check out the preview to try out one of each of the first three stages.

If you like performance tasks and open ended problems:

FREE! Doggy Dilemma: Open Ended Performance Task
Open Ended Word Problems (My best seller!)
Open Ended Problems - Set 2
Holiday Version - On Stage! Open Ended Performance Task
Presidential Birthday Statisticians: Open Ended Performance Task
Open Ended Math Journal: 125 Prompts to Promote Deep Thinking
Total Pages
50 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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