Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …

about Math: Making Long Multiplication easy for the Right-Brained Learner

  • January 29, 2014 5:26 pm

Untitled drawing

This has been a hard year for math. I have very gifted children who understand mathematical concepts way beyond their years (like set theory, fractions, and summations — yes, The Elder solve this the first day he was exposed to summations at age 10),

BUT still add on their fingers!!



I do have a wonderful recommendation for Times to Remember for remembering multiplication facts.


It’s the only thing that has worked with them. More than Times Alive and more than Times Tales. And they love getting drilled on them. I just mention something in the picture like “bumble bee” and they are screaming at the top of their lungs “8 x 8 go out the sticky door. 8 x 8 equals 64.” Which almost always follows with chanting “jinx! jinx! jinx!” over and over again until they are giggling and tired of jinxing each other. Like I let them drink coke…

Anyhoo, finally learning his multiplication facts has significantly tuned down the meltdown factor for The Elder when it comes to long multiplication, but he still cannot do it completely on his own without guidance. I’ve done it on graph paper and columns by turning the page sideways (which helps alot too). I’ve done it in color. The turtle-head method. I’ve tried explaining the theory behind it, got giddy about how amazing math is, and wondered why he didn’t glow with awe as well. But none of that made the process stick into his head for him to be able to repeat it the next day (or even the next hour). Finally, I decided to go really weird. Pictures, color, humor, and weird are the ingredients to great strategies for teaching a right-brained learner. After making up this bizarre story, The Elder was able to do it on his own. And he even looked like he was having fun. Well, maybe not, but he had a pencil in his hand and was not scribbing/breaking/throwing it nor ripping pages out of his composition book. I call that a victory. FUN, if you will.

You may need to know a few things before this makes any sense:

  • Firstly, we use the partial products method. Here’s a video showing the basics.
  • Secondly, we say “drop a zero” which started out as “lay an egg” from the turtlehead method, then somehow morphed into “drop an egg” and now to our current “drop a zero.” Whatever works, I guess.
  • Thirdly, we “drop zeros” for the digits that weren’t invited to the party. I totally made up this story on the fly. Don’t judge.

Long Multiplication Storylongmultstory

Sorry I couldn’t get the picture clearer than that, but click here for the pdf version. He really loved that I alluded to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Hope this helps someone else too.

The real test will be to see if he retains it tomorrow…

Now for long division… *sobs*