Here’s the idea: there is no point in your students “practicing” multiplication facts (or any other factual information, for that matter) if they’re going to do it mindlessly.
Good practice requires thinking, did you hear me, THINKING! A card with “7 x 6 = ?” printed on it does not provoke a lot of thinking, even if you put a cute bunny or bird on it.
The point of this game is that it demands that your students think “backwards.” That is, instead of asking “6 x 7 = ?”, the student has to start with the answer (“I need that spot with the 42 on it; what factors do I use?) and then pick them out on the number board underneath. Yes, I know this is hard, especially if your students don’t know all their multiplication facts yet.
Wait, why are you having my students do this? Because if you want your students to have an easier time learning division facts, you have to make sure that they know their multiplication facts forwards and backwards. What exactly does that mean? According to the findings of cognitive science, in order to develop a deep understanding of a topic, you need to have something called “rich associations.” “Rich associations?” you ask. Yes, that is, when your students see the number “56”, they should know that it means more than 50 + 6, or 55 + 1, but that it also can be thought of as “8 x 7” and “7 x 8.” Or 28 x 2, for that matter.
I love this activity, and I use it with my students whenever they have a spare moment, either as part of morning work, or for practice when they have finished their regular work. It’s also a fun thing to send for homework; believe me, your kids will enjoy practicing multiplication a lot more when they’re playing a game with their loved ones, rather than doing one of those cruddy worksheets that some teachers (not you) download from those chumpy math websites.
I’ve also included a blank board for you and your students to use; I think it would be really interesting to see what versions of this game they would come up with on their own. If you or your students make a good one, go ahead and send it over to me and I’ll mark it up into a polished verison; not only will I send it back to you, but I’ll also give you props!