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By John Jennings • February 8, 2023

Teaching the Properties of Multiplication

The properties of operations are key building blocks as students begin to delve into more complex mathematical expressions and concepts. These properties can be applied to upcoming work with fractions, order of operations, and more. 

eSpark’s 3rd grade math curriculum features an entire Quest dedicated to the properties of multiplication, including a wide variety of instructional videos, songs, games, and checks for understanding. We’ve curated a few of those activities here—teachers who are new to eSpark can sign up free using the link above to access all linked Small Group Skills and relevant progress and activity reports.

As always, have fun eSparking!


The Commutative Property

The commutative property tells us that the order of the factors does not affect the product; e.g. a × b = b × a

Assign the Small Group Skill

...or try these stand-alone activities:

Instructional Video: What is the Commutative Property?


Practice Game: Alien Invasion

A multiple choice math problem in the foreground, with rogue aliens roaming the background.

Uh oh! Aliens have invaded Earth and your students in the Elite Alien Round-Up Squad are the only ones who can send them back to their home planet. Students will power up their teleportation lasers by determining another way to describe six different arrays, given one correct expression. Can they save us all? 


The Associative Property

The associative property tells us that the way we group factors does not affect the product; e.g. (a × b) × c = a × (b × c).

Assign the Small Group Skill

...or try these stand-alone activities:

Instructional Video: What is the Associative Property?


Practice Game: Monster Battle

Two monsters face each other in an arena, with an associative property multiple choice question at the top of the screen.

Students collect coins between rounds and use their funds to purchase a variety of attacks for use in the arena. Once there, they’ll take on monstrous opponents by choosing equal expressions and unleashing their chosen attack. Will your students become masters of the arena?  


The Distributive Property

The distributive property helps us work with brackets and parentheses by telling us we can multiply each addend (or subtrahend) by the number outside the bracket/parentheses to solve the expression; e.g. a(b + c) = a × b + a × c.

Assign the Small Group Skill

...or try these stand-alone activities:

Music Video: The Distributive Property Song


Practice Game: Distributive Property Demolition

We see a decomposed multiplication problem in the foreground and buildings ready for demolition in the background.

In this perfect followup to the famous Distributive Property Song, students are put in charge of a demolition crew and tasked with taking down some old buildings. To do so, they must break down multiplication problems using what they know about the distributive property. Correct answers are rewarded with a powerful swing of the wrecking ball and a satisfying pile of rubble!


The Identity Property

The identity property is a helpful reminder for any number that finds itself struggling to remember its place in the world. All we have to do is multiply said number by one to validate its existence; e.g. a × 1 = a.

Assign the Small Group Skill

...or try this stand-alone activity:

Practice Game: Cheetah Chaser

We see a Cheetah running along the ground with a divide by 1 math problem at the top of the screen.

Chance the Cheetah is a big fan of multiplying and dividing by one. He also has an impressive vertical! In this game, students will leap over the correct answers to expressions involving factors and divisors of one. Time to show off that cheetah power!


Bonus: Bring it all together

Practice Game: Properties of Multiplication

We see a property of multiplication multiple choice question and an eSpark character cheering us on.

Are your students feeling good about all the properties of multiplication? Test their skills with this review game featuring eSpark’s own Indigo the cat (and some upbeat, futuristic tunes). Consider this the final boss of eSpark’s properties of multiplication resources!


(Play-based) x (math practice) = better outcomes

eSpark’s unique, play-based approach to supplemental curriculum has helped more than 400,000 teachers spark a love of learning in their classrooms. By delivering a multi-sensory digital experience for students working independently or in small groups, eSpark can help you get new concepts to stick while providing multiple paths to standards mastery. Students encounter this vibrant content via their individual adaptive pathways and pre-built Small Group Skills lessons consisting of an instructional video, gamified practice and application, and a check for understanding. 

There’s never been a better time to try eSpark in your classroom. Click the sign up link at the top of this page for free access to the full experience today!


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