top of page
Image by Chris Liverani

MathBait™ Multiplication

Let's Eat

Share this resource!

Help students intuitively understand the distributive property! In this warm up we start with a real world example students can relate to before further building conceptual understanding by exploring a passage from Marco the Great.


Resource Type

Warm Up

Primary Topic








Start with a story. This can be very informal so that students do not even think we are talking about math or have started the lesson.

"Last weekend I was having a small party with my friends. I didn't have time to cook and gather snacks so I went to Taco Bell [feel free to enter your own restaurant]. They offered a special which contained 1 drink, 3 tacos, and 2 burritos. I ordered 5 specials but when I got to the window I was sure they didn't give me everything. They handed me only 1 drink, so I knew something was wrong. While the cashier was giving me an attitude asking why I even needed 5 drinks as there was only one of me in the car, I was trying to do the math to figure out how many tacos and burritos I should have received."

At this point ask students how many of each item you should have been given. They will probably be quick to figure it out. You ordered 5 combo meals, so you should receive 5 of each item. This is 5 drinks, 5 of the taco plates, and 5 of the burrito plates. Breaking it down further, since each taco plate contains 3 tacos, 5 of these totals 15 tacos and similarly 5 burrito plates total 10 burritos.

Explain to students this is called the Distributive Property. Invite them to share their own thoughts and examples of where they have seen this used in their life. Connecting to existing understanding is a sure-fire path to mastery.

If needed and time permits, using rectangles can further help support understanding. Mimic the passage below from Marco the Great and the History of Numberville. Allow students to make bars to figure out some of the more difficult products (for instance, to find 8×7, allow students to draw 8 bars each 7 tall and discuss how they might split them up to more easily determine the product. Some examples would be to split each bar into 3 and 4 so they have eight 3-bars and eight 4-bars or 5 and 2 which is a particularly good strategy for students who have developed confidence in counting by 2's and 5's).

expert from Marco the Great


The material on this page is copyrighted by MathBait™. Please use and enjoy it! MathBait™ provides a temporary license for Non-Commercial purposes. You are not permitted to copy, distribute, sell, or make derivative work without written permission from MathBait™. 

Tell us what you think!

Click to rate this activity

© MathBait®
bottom of page