Multiplication Stars!!

by Lori B. McQuillen and Jose L. Esteban

Lori and Jose are full-time graduate students at San Diego State University each working towards a master's degree in Educational Technology. Jose is also an Economics professor at Palomar College and does consulting on economics in his free time (like he has a lot of that).

Instructional Objective

The learners will be able to recite the multiplication tables from zero to twelve from memory.

This game is initially written for use in a third grade classroom for reinforcment of skills, however it can be played anywhere, i.e. home, bus, playground.


Multiplication Stars is intended to reinforce the multiplication tables from zero to twelve which is part of the math curriculum for third grade in the State of California. The learners are students currently enrolled at Strand Elementary School in the third grade. This game is also appropriate for high-achieving students in the first and second grades. Students are often introduced to the multiplication tables in the second grade and sometimes as early as the end of the first grade depending on the level of the student. Multiplication Stars could also be used at the beginning of the fourth grade as a refresher of the multiplication tables learned in third grade or throughout the year to hone skills in readiness for learning more complex math.


One of the skills that the teachers' described as part of the curriculum for the third grade is knowing the multiplication tables from zero to twelve. This is a necessary prerequisite skill for use in any other multiplication calculations and any more advanced math students will learn in future grades. The calculations are simple in content and need to be rote so the repetition of the game supports the learning objective.


One deck of cards: A Multiplication stack that will include four bonus cards. Also needed are 100 yellow stars for score keeping.


The game is intended for 2 - 4 players. Winner is the player with the most stars at the end of game. End of game comes when the teacher calls time.

1. Each player chooses a card from the Multiplication stack. Player with highest card goes first. Play moves to the left.

2. The player who's turn it is, draws two cards from the top of the Multiplication stack and turns them over face up (side with numbers.) That player states the product of the two cards out loud.

3. If the player gets the product correct, he/she gets two stars. Cards are placed at the bottom of the stack.If the card has stars instead of numbers, then the player gets to do as many calculations as the number of stars on the card (i.e. two stars means two calculations, the chances of getting more stars is then higher.)

4. If the player does not have the correct answer, the next player may challenge by stating the correct answer to that calculation which will give the him a single star. The challenger draws one more card and states the new product (product of first two card from previous player and the current card just drawn off of stack), the challenger will receive another two stars for this correct answer. If the player doesn't challenge right away, normal play continues.

Note At any time there is discussion over a correct response, the teacher will be called to make a judgment.

Card Design

The stack has a blue back with a yellow star. The opposite side of each card has a number from zero to twelve on one side, four cards of each number. The deck also includes the four bonus cards. These cards look the same as the Multiplication stack on the back, but the front has either two or three stars. There are two of each of these cards.

Design Process

The design was developed with specific learners and instructional goals in mind. We initially came up with the idea because each of us know children in the third grade who have recently been introduced to learning their multiplication tables and are meeting the skill with some difficulty. Using flash cards and some of the other memorization practices has helped these students but they complain that it is boring. We were striving to make learning multiplication tables a little more fun.

Last updated by Lori McQuillen and Jose L. Esteban on October 26, 1995.

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Educational Technology 670, Fall 1995.