Long multiplication puzzle: TES Maths Resource of the Week

Maths ROTW: Long multiplication from Tes on Vimeo.

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What is it?
The start of the year is often the time you want to focus on developing and consolidating students’ key number skills, such as long multiplication, as success in so many more complex topics depend on secure knowledge of these skills. The problem, of course, is that this tends to be a little boring. In the past I have tried to overcome this by using resources that focus more on the engagement side than the actual maths, often utilising dodgy real-life contexts. However, with this wonderful resource, you get all the engagement that comes from a good challenge, but safe in the knowledge that all of students’ attention is focussed on the maths.

There are two “levels” to this puzzle, both of which require students to practice long multiplication in their quest to arrive at the answer. The first level in pretty straight-forward, with students needing to find the value of missing digits in the answer. However, the second level gives them some stages of the working out, and challenges students to find missing digits in the question. This really gets students thinking, requiring logical thinking together with knowledge of factors and multiples. And they can always check their answer by carrying out the original multiplication.

How can it be used?
This is one of those dream activities that essentially runs itself. I would be tempted to start the lesson with an Example-Problem Pair on long-multiplication. That is, I would model how to answer a question, and then ask students to complete a similar one on their own. If any students were struggling at this stage and felt they needed more practice, then they could do (or at least start on) the first activity. But for other students, the challenge of the second activity awaits them. Abd upon completion, they could always create their own challenges for each other. No dodgy real-life context, no cries of “when will I need this in real life?”, just some good, old-fashioned, very important, maths.

Thanks so much for sharing
Craig Barton

Download: Long multiplication puzzle
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