How to Multiply Three or More Numbers

Instructor: Trisha Fyfe

Trisha has taught college and K-12 English, reading, writing, and math. She has a master's degree in teaching.

We use multiplication all the time in life, but have you ever wondered how to multiply more than two numbers together quickly? In this lesson, you will learn how to multiply three or more numbers together.

Fresh Eggs

A farmer is collecting fresh eggs today. He has 3 chicken coops and each coop has 4 chickens inside. Each of the chickens laid 2 eggs. How many eggs will the farmer collect?

Where do we start? While there are several ways to find the answer to this problem, the quickest way to get to your answer is to multiply these three numbers together.

Multiplication

It's really important to first understand the vocabulary that we use for multiplication. Multiplication is used for repeated addition. Instead of adding 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 24, we can multiply 4 x 6 = 24. The answer that we get when we multiply two numbers together is called the product. The numbers that we multiply together are called factors.

When we multiply three or more numbers together, we start by multiplying any two factors first. Next, we multiply this product by another factor. If there are more than three numbers, we keep going until we have multiplied all the factors.

How Many Eggs?

Now, how many eggs will this farmer have? If the farmer has 3 coops with 4 chickens in each coop, we multiply 3 x 4 = 12 to find the number of chickens. But, if we stop at 12 we will only know how many chickens this farmer has all together.

To find the total number of eggs, we need to keep going. We take our product (12) and multiply it by our last factor (2 eggs per chicken). When we multiply 12 x 2 = 24 we can see that the farmer collected 24 eggs.


3 coops x 4 chickens per coop x 2 eggs per chicken = 24 eggs
3 coops x 4 chickens per coop x 2 eggs per chicken = 24 eggs


How Many Seeds?

Let's try again. Say this same farmer has to plant seeds in all of his gardens today. He has 4 gardens that are the same size. Each garden has 6 rows with 5 holes in each row. How many seeds will the farmer need to fill every hole in his garden with one seed?

Did you get 120? If so, great job! Let's walk through the steps.

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