How to Multiply One-Digit Numbers

Instructor: Christine Quist

Christine has taught 4th-5th grade, has worked as a Paraprofessional for Adult Learners, and has a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction for Elementary Education.

This lesson discusses the process of multiplying one-digit numbers. It shows you how to find the correct answer using skip counting,, a multiplication table, or flashcards.

Multiplying One-Digit Numbers

There are plenty of rules that you can use when multiplying one-digit numbers. For instance, the 'zero rule' tells you that when you multiply any number by 0, the answer is 0. And you may have heard of the 'easy ones' rule, which reminds you that any number multiplied by 1 equals itself (for instance, 5 x 1 = 5).

But what happens when there's no one or zero involved? You'll need to know other methods of multiplying one-digit numbers. Let's explore some ways.

Skip Counting

Let's say that you are buying candied apples for three of your friends, and you would like to buy two for each person. To find the total number of candied apples to purchase, you would need to solve this problem:

  • 2 x 3 = ?

In this problem, the 2 is being multiplied by 3. That means the 2 is being added three times, like this:

  • 2 + 2 + 2 = 6

But you don't need to write this out each time. There's another way to find the answer that's quicker than adding the number 2 three times. We can use skip counting, which is when you count by adding the same number to the previous number each time. Think of skipping numbers along a number line to get to your answer.

Skip Counting

We start at 2, then skip two spots to land at 4, then two more spots to 6. By skip counting, we just found that 2 x 3 = 6!

Using the Multiplication Table

Another way to learn the answers to math problems that involve multiplying one-digit numbers is to review your multiplication table. Also called a times table, it's a chart that shows you the answer, or product, when you multiply two numbers.

Times Table

In this times table, you have a row of numbers across the top (highlighted in green) and a column of numbers along the left side (highlighted in blue). These numbers represent the numbers being multiplied.

Let's find the answer for 4 x 6. Start by putting a finger on the blue 4 and another finger on the green 6. Then, move your fingers toward the center, making sure to stay in the same row/column, until your fingers meet--at 24. This exercise shows you that 4 x 6 = 24!

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