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Teaching Factors and Multiples

October 6, 2022 No Comments

When I first started teaching factors and multiples in fourth grade, I’ll be honest – I was worried! I thought that my students would have trouble learning the difference between factors and multiples. And they did! But I learned that with the right kind of practice, teachers and students can nail this lesson.

Why are factors and multiples tricky for students?

Here are some of the reasons why I’ve seen students get stuck:

  • They get the terms confused.
  • They don’t have a solid foundation in multiplication and division.
  • They don’t know their multiplication facts and/or aren’t using math aids for support.
  • They forget that 1 is a factor of every number or that the first multiple of a number is itself.
  • They forget some of the factor pairs when working with bigger numbers.

Since identifying factors and multiples is important for multiplication and division, fraction operations, and patterns, it’s definitely not a skill to rush through!

You'll want lots of anchor charts for this math unit

Tips for teaching factors and multiples:

  1. Start early in the year before this lesson even comes up in your pacing guide (and use the language).
  2. Use clear anchor charts to teach the definitions of each word. Have a place on your math wall or in math notebooks for students to refer to.
  3. Use visual aids or sayings to help students remember the definitions, like in the photo above or you could try this idea.
  4. Have manipulatives available (i.e., 100s charts and multiplication charts) – especially for students who don’t have their facts memorized.
  5. Take a few days, especially if you need to cover common factors and multiples.
  6. Practice throughout the year so students stay fresh.

Activities to review identifying factors and multiples:

I think it’s really helpful to have ready-to-go activities that you can use all year long to practice. The ones listed below are great for morning work, math centers, early finishers, sub plans, and test prep.

Digital Practice

If you’re looking for an all-in-one resource to teach, review, and assess factors and multiples, these digital activities in Google Slides™ are perfect. They make it easy for you to keep your lessons organized. And bonus, students love the interactive activities they can complete by typing and moving objects!

Digital activities are a good way to help students practice finding multiples and factors of whole numbers

Puzzles and Sorts

Hands-on activities are another great way to practice. I love these colorful puzzles where students match numbers to their factors and multiples. Try them for free here!

Puzzles and sorts make great hands-on math centers.

Differentiated sorts are also a must-have, especially when it comes to determining common factors and multiples. These worksheets are great for math centers and interactive notebooks.

I love these sorting worksheets for identifying common factors and common multiples

Boom Cards

Digital Boom Learning cards are a super engaging activity to use in your factors and multiples lessons!

Students can use this factors set to review identifying factors, common factors, and the GCF, and this multiples set for practice with multiples and the LCM of numbers!

Digital task cards are an interactive way for 4th graders to review math standards!

Additional resources:

Looking for more practice? You can click here to see all of the resources I’ve created for this topic, including seasonal review activities and flash cards!

With repeated practice and differentiated activities, teaching factors and multiples becomes a lot less scary! I hope you’ve found some tips and lesson ideas that you’re excited to try with your students!

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