Easy Upper Elementary Multiplication Review

It seems that every year I spend the first few weeks of school reteaching objectives that my students learned the year before.  Summer after summer, objectives and content that my students had "mastered" the year before, seems to go MIA. 

This year I was trying to figure out how to attack the seemingly inevitable summer slide. Specifically with multiplication, I wanted to find a challenging but fun way to help my kids kick their brains into high gear from day one.  I decided to use the book Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar to dive right in.

If you have not read this book, it is a gem!  It should be a staple of every upper elementary classroom.  In a simple, easy-to-understand, way the book introduces the concept of factorials.  This beautiful story guides the reader easily to the understanding that 10! is equal to 

10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1.  

On the first day of school I read this book to my students.  I stopped halfway through exactly at the point where the question is asked, "How many jars in all?"  I gave each of my groups time to discuss and make predictions.  Next, I passed out scratch paper and reread the book while the students took notes on any information they felt was important. Again I stopped reading at the same point in the text.  I told my students that it was their job to figure out how many jars there were in all.  

To solve this problem the students had to work through all the multiplication to solve for 10 factorial! After each group had persevered through the problem they were shocked and amazed to find out there were over 3 million jars in all! Each group made a poster to illustrate their learning. The student's had a ton of fun and were totally engaged.  Such a fun way to review so many multiplication facts right off the bat!          
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