How to Teach Arrays

I’m not sure about you but when it comes to math, I am a big visual learner. I love being able to see real-life examples of math and I like using hands-on strategies. As students progress through the grades, math tends to become more “paper” work and I like when students are able to see tactile examples of math. I believe this builds a strong foundation of number sense. When I teach arrays, I use these same strategies.

Relate to the Real World

The first thing I have my students do after I do my first introduction lesson to arrays is assign homework. But this is the kind of homework students love. I ask my students to find something at home or outside that is an array. I also allow them to take a picture of something and bring it in. I don’t want them to go out and buy something. In the years past, I have had students bring in egg cartons, muffin trays, bubble wrap, collapsible shoe rack, and many more. You’ll be amazed with what your students bring in. Finally, I have them show me the repeated addition and multiplication sentence with the item they brought in. It’s a great way to show students how math is everywhere!

Use Food!

My math instruction is at the end of the day. This is the time when I get a hankering for a sweet treat. When I’m able to incorporate food into my math instruction, it’s like all the stars have aligned! We like to use cereal, mini marshmallows, small cookies, and candy like Skittles or M&M’s. My students use these white board pockets that I talked about in this post, and then they can use their dry erase marker to add multiplication sentences or products.

Here’s my classroom management tip: I give my students a small handful first that they can eat. This decreases that “urge” to eat when we are working. Of course, I tell them that they will get to eat when we are all finished, but I have found that when I provide a chance to have a little taste first, they’re less likely to eat during the activity. If you’re looking for some of my other classroom management tips, go check out this post.

BrainPOP Jr. Video

You know I’m going to throw a video at you! It wouldn’t be a blog post without one. If you don’t have a school subscription to BrainPOP, you should look into getting one. Not only do I love the videos, but my students do as well. Plus, there are activities, quizzes and games that go along with each video. In you’re in a crunch, this is the perfect opener for a lesson. If you need to have a substitute come in, they could watch the video with your students, complete the activity and the quiz on the computer. Easy peasy. Here’s a look at the activity that goes with the “Array” video on BrainPOP Jr.

Here is another video that shows students how repeated addition and arrays are related:

Array Worksheets

I have created this resource to help your students master arrays. These printables include questions, coloring, cut and paste, interactive notebook pages, games, and drawing. You can use them for math centers or stations, early or fast finishers, homework, seat work, morning work, and more.


What is your favorite way to teach arrays? I hope you’ve been able to learn some new and exciting strategies to use while teaching your students about arrays.

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