March 21, 2017
by Sarah Sumnicht
Lesson Plan:

Associative Property of Multiplication

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Students will be able to apply the associative property to multiply single-digit factors.

(5 minutes)
  • Ask students what the word associate means. Use it in a sentence. For example, "I associate with Matthew during recess," or "We often associate the color blue with sadness." Give students a moment to discuss the word with peers.
  • Call on a few students to give a definition for the word associate and then develop a meaning with the class (i.e. joined or connected)
  • On the board, draw a quick picture to illustrate the word (i.e. draw two people holding hands)
  • Explain: Today we are going to explore the associative property of multiplication.
  • Write the name of the property on the board and underline the word associative.
(10 minutes)
  • Remind students that we can group numbers using parentheses.
  • Explain: The associative property of multiplication states that an equation will have the same product regardless of how the factors are grouped.
  • Write the definition on the board for student reference.
  • Give an example, like (2 x 5) x 8 = 2 x (5 x 8). Solve each equation and show the students the product for each is 80.
  • Point out that the factors are the same, and in the same order, but they are grouped differently.
  • Write a second example on the board, like 3 x (2 x 4) = (3 x 2) x 4. Then solve.
  • Summarize: When solving multiplication problems, factors can be grouped in any combination and it will not change the product. This is called the associative property of multiplication.
(10 minutes)
  • Pair students with a partner.
  • Hand out strips of paper, four pieces of macaroni pasta, and glue to each set of partners.
  • Have students work with their partner to write an equation with three matching factors on either side of the equal sign (i.e. 4 x 5 x 6 = 4 x 5 x 6) leaving room between numbers.
  • Instruct students to use their macaroni as parenthesis and glue them into their equation so that it illustrates the associative property ( i.e. (4 x 5) x 6 = 4 x (5 x 6) )
(20 minutes)
  • Hand out the It’s Associative worksheet.
  • Complete the first problem with the class, then instruct students to complete the worksheet independently.
  • Circulate as students work and offer support as needed, then review the worksheet as a class.


  • Provide partially completed problems, with parentheses around one set of factors, and have students add in parentheses to show the associative property.


  • Have students use the internet to research other properties of multiplication.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students make a comic or picture equation showing the associative property (see resources for an example).
  • Collect and check for understanding.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students, "What does the associative property help us understand about multiplication?"
  • Discuss answers as a class.
    • Some answers might include: Factors can be grouped in any combination, the product doesn’t change as long as the factors are the same, and multiplication has similar properties to addition.

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