How to Multiply by 3

Instructor: Rayna Cummings

Rayna has taught Elementary Education for 12 years (in both 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades) and holds a M.Ed in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University

Multiplying by 3 can be fun to do. In this lesson, you will learn different ways to multiply by 3 using skip counting, repeated addition, equal groups, and an array. So let's get going and learn those 3's!

Jump Into Multiplying

Quickly do three jumping jacks. Now do two sets of three jumping jacks. How many jumping jacks did you do in all? You did six - great job! Did you know that you just multiplied by 3? When you did two sets of three jumping jacks and counted the total number, you multiplied 2 x 3 = 6 or 3 x 2 = 6. Pretty cool, right?

Ways to Multiply by 3

Let's learn some different ways to multiply by 3.

Skip Counting

Skip counting is one of the ways you can multiply by 3. When skip counting by 3's, you say the numbers 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, and so on. By doing this, you are actually multiplying by 3.

Skip Counting Multiplication Problem
3 3 x 1
6 3 x 2
9 3 x 3
12 3 x 4
15 3 x 5

Using skip counting, do you know what 3 x 6 will equal? 3, 6, 9, 12, 15... 18!

You can also use repeated addition, or adding numbers over and over again, to multiply by 3. For example, if you had the problem 3 x 2, you could add 3 two times and get the answer. So, 3 + 3 = 6 which is the same thing as 3 x 2 = 6. Now you try it. What is the answer to the multiplication problem 3 x 4 using repeated addition? To get the answer, you will add 3 four times like this: 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 to get the answer 12, making 3 x 4 = 12.

Using Groups

You can use equal groups, or groups that have the same number, to multiply by 3. Make three circles on your paper - this shows that we will be multiplying by 3. Now draw 1 dot in each circle. How many total dots do you now have? You have 3 dots and have just shown the multiplication problem 3 x 1 = 3. Let's try another one. Add 4 more dots to each circle - each circle now has 5 dots. Your picture now shows the multiplication problem 3 x 5 and when you add all of the dots together, you will see that 3 x 5 = 15! Fun, right?

Now, I want you to look at the picture below and write the multiplication problem that it shows. Don't peek until you are finished!

If you wrote 3 x 8 = 24 you are correct. The picture shows 3 circles with 8 dots in each circle, showing a total of 24 dots.

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