Distributive Property for Multiplication

Traditionally, multiplication is taught by first understanding skip-counting, e.g. 3,6,9,12,… When students are able to skip-count to get the answer, we switch to rote-memory by having students memorize their multiplication tables. Often students have problems with trickier multiplication facts such as 8×6, or 7×6 and have no fall-back to rely on. This is where the Distributive Property for Multiplication comes in handy.

Another way we can teach multiplication is to focus on derived facts, e.g. to find 7×5, students used known facts 5×5 and 2×5.

7×5 = 5×5 + 2×5

To help students understand this distributive property of multiplication, we rely on pictorial representation to visualize how the multiplication problem can be split up into easier components.

pictorial representation of the distributive property of multiplication

After students are comfortable with using the distributive property for single digit multiplication, we can extend the concept to 2-digit multiplication, e.g.

23×6 = 20×6 + 3×6

using the same pictorial representation, and build on the knowledge to introduce partial products.

partial products

Related Resources

For more related resources, please refer to our Multiplication and Division page.

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