Arrays: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Audrey Akins

Audrey has more than a decade of experience teaching elementary. She has a bachelor's in journalism and a master's in education.

Arrays are around you every day whether you realize it or not. An array can be a group of cupcakes in a package, a group of biscuits in a pan, or a case of soda. In this math lesson you'll learn what an array is and how to make one. Updated: 01/20/2022

What Is an Array?

An array is a way of arranging things in rows and columns. When you buy things like a pack of cookies, a pack of toy cars, or even a carton of eggs, the items in the package are lined up to create an array. An array always has rows and columns.

The rows are the horizontal lines that go from left to right. The columns are the vertical lines that go from top to bottom. Things that are arranged in an array create a rectangular shape or a square shape.

When an array has a different a number for the number of rows and another number for the number of columns, it creates a rectangle. For example, an array with 8 rows and 3 columns will create a rectangle.

When an array has the same number of rows and columns, it creates a square. For example, if an array had 7 rows and 7 columns, it would create a square array.

In the array of stars below, there are six rows and five columns, so this shows as a rectangular array.

This array has 6 rows and 5 columns.

Number sentences for an array can be written as a repeated addition sentence or a multiplication sentence. For this star array, the repeated addition sentence is 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 30. This is because there are five stars on six rows, so we add the number 5 a total of six times. The multiplication sentence for this array is 6 x 5 = 30. This is because there are six stars in each column and 5 stars in each row. You can look at the first column and first row to see this information, so 6 x 5 = 30. You also can count each item one by one and you still see that there are 30 stars.

Making an Array

When you create an array, the number of objects you have can be odd, like 9, or even, like 12, just as long as they form an array without any empty spaces where an object should be in a row or column.

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