Multiplication Activity with Playdough Plum Trees
It’s an interactive and visual way for children to understand how times tables work.
As they place playdough plums on the branches of the tree, they can easily count them out and add them together into ‘sets’.
The more they play, the more ‘sets’ of numbers they will create. They will understand what it means to have ‘2 sets of 2’ and will be ready to learn those fist times tables.
Time: 10 minutes
Ages: Big kids
Difficulty to make: Easy peasy
You will need:
- FREE Plum tree printable
- Brown card
- Play dough
Step 1: Print out this free Plum tree printable
Download and print out the FREE Plum tree printable worksheet here.
If you like, you can laminate it so that it’s more long-lasting and can be used again and again. You can then use a dry wipe pen to write on the sums and wipe them off each time.
Step 2: Cut out some extra branches
Cut out branch shapes from brown card. You need these branches for your times tables.
Start by placing 2 branches on the tree, to start with the 2 times table.
Step 3: Add some playdough plums to the branches
Ask your child to roll lots of little plum shapes from purple play dough. They will need to make about 12 to start with for their 2 times table.
2 x 1 = 2
Explain that there are 2 branches on the leaves of the tree. These are your ‘sets’.
Ask your child to place 1 plum on each branch.
Show them that there are now 2 branches, each with 1 plum on it.
There are 2 sets of 1. How many plums are there altogether?…2 plums.
So 2 sets of 1 makes 2.
This can also be phrased as: 2 times 1 is 2.
Step 4: Add 2 plums to each branch
Next ask your child to place 2 plums on each branch.
2 x 2 = 4
Now there are 2 branches, each with 2 plums on it.
How many plums are there altogether?
Explain that there are 2 lots of 2. And 2 lots of 2 makes 4.
This can also be phrased as: 2 times 2 is 4.
Step 5: Keep adding more plums to each branch
Work through all the numbers from 1-10, adding a different number of plums onto each of the 2 branches each time. (Always have the same number of plums on each branch).
2 x 5 = 10
Here there are 5 plums on each branch. So there are 5 sets of 2.
If you count them all up you see that 5 sets of 2 is 10.
This can also be phrased as: 2 times 5 is 10.
Step 6: Write out the multiplication sums
When we start teaching times tables we use the words ‘lots of’ and ‘sets of’. Then we start to use words like ‘multiplied by’ and ‘times’ to mean the same thing.
Finally we can explain that these terms are written using the symbol ‘x’. It means ‘lots of’ or ‘multiplied by’.
Now when your child does the activity, they can write down the maths sum that they have made on the tree.
At first you can guide them through how to write the sum:
- Help them count the number of branches on the tree (2).
- How many plums are on each branch? (5)
- How many plums there are when they count up 2 lots of 5? (10)
So 2 x 5 = 10
Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to understand multiplication sums and to get familiar with each times table. Repetition always helps.
Adapt the activity for more times tables
Once your child has worked through the two times table you can use the same tree worksheet to learn different times tables.
You simply need to cut out and add more branches.
Here for example there are 3 branches so that your child can start learning the 3 times table.
By adding a plum on each branch you will have 3 sets of 1 for example. So 3 x 1 = 3.
Learning times tables can sometimes feel like hard work at first.
Use hands-on, playtime learning activities to introduce the concept and practice multiplying those first numbers. It makes learning them much easier and so much more fun.