Doubles! A Preschooler’s Introduction to Multiplication

In addition, doubles are numbers added to themselves, 1+1, 2+2, 3+3, etc. Kids go crazy for doubles; I’m not exactly sure why, but there is just something extra magical about them. My preschooler is no exception, and he is drawn towards doubles, too.

Exploring doubles serves as a great introduction to multiplication, as doubling a number is the same as multiplying by 2:

1+1=2×1          2+2=2×2          

3+3=3×2          4+4=4×2, etc.

Before we start exploring doubles, however, assess your child’s readiness. Though they do not need to be addition experts, it is helpful if your preschooler has an awareness of what addition is-the process of combining numbers together to get a total number. Further, they should also be able to do some simple addition problems with the help of their fingers, a number line, a hundreds chart, or manipulatives. This basic knowledge of addition is vital to their understanding of multiplication. If your child is not at this point yet, proceed with caution. They can participate in the activities but may not be ready to fully understand the underlying concepts. 


We explored doubles with craft pom poms, or “dots” as my children call them and a cupcake tin. 

First, cut out circles the size of the cupcake tin and write down the numbers 1-6 and their doubles 2-12. 

Separate the numbers 1-6 into one pile and the doubles 2-12 in another pile. 

Have your preschooler find the 1 and put it in the cupcake tin. Have them scoop 1 pom pom into the 1’s spot. 

Then ask them to find 1’s double. (They can use any method to find the double, and you can help them find the answer. The point here is to explore the concept. You might encourage them to think about the one pom pom and to ask what happens when you have “two times” the amount or “twice” the amount.)

Once they figured out that it is 2, have them place the 2 circle in the pan next to 1, and have them scoop 2 pom poms into the pan. 

Have your child choose another number and continue to match up the circles and scoop the pom poms into the cupcake pan, while emphasizing that they are scooping two times the number. 

When all the numbered circles have been put into the cupcake tin, go through again and reiterate one “two times” is two, two “two times” is four, three “two times” is six, the whole way to six. This is beginning to show your child the relationship between addition and multiplication. 

Game time!!

After exploring the concept of doubles, children can move onto multiplying other numbers (again, through six). My preschooler is really into games right now, so if I ask him if he wants to play a game, the answer is always a “YES!” 

And then I added M & M’s to the game and I am the best Mom of all time:

So the game is pretty simple, you roll the die and get a number 1-6: this is the number of cups you have. Roll again and this is the number of M & M’s you have to put in each cup. Put the M & M’s into the cups and count to see what the answer is. 

Then have the child state the math sentence. They rolled a 2 and then another 2 so they have: 2 times 2 equals 4.

And then of course they get to eat the mini M & M’s, which is the best part!

In the pic below my preschooler rolled double 6’s for a whopping 36 M & M’s.  Maximum candy amount!!! 

He has THE biggest sweet tooth of all time, so he was incredibly happy with his luck here. 

Another fun element you can add is to do something special when they do roll a double (like I said, kids just love doubles!). 

Math Coach’s Corner has a super silly doubles chant that my kids just adore. To add the chant, continue game play as normal, but when someone rolls a double, have them yell “doubles!” and stand up and do this chant from MCC’s site:

Double double bump bump (bump hips)

Double double pump pump (fist bump)

Double double jump jump (jump twice)

Double double rump rump (bump butts)

I am not under the impression that my two year old can do multiplication. But this game was simple and fun enough that even she could play along with us. It is hard being the younger sibling and I don’t like to exclude her from the fun we are having, so I try to plan activities where both kids can join in!

If they are ready, preschoolers can begin to explore the basics of multiplication through doubles. Memorization of math facts is not yet important, and will not even become important until about second grade. The goal here is to broaden their mathematical understandings and to begin to help them form associations between different number operations. 

Multiplication and division are typically taught separately, with focus on multiplication first, but remember at this age the order is not necessarily important. It is incredibly important, however, to consider introducing division not long after multiplication, so that children have a chance to see how the two are related to each other. Check out this post if you haven’t already: Preschoolers and Division


  1. Adding games to learning, certainly makes learning more fun and meaningful. I think the M&M game works well. It is great to use concrete materials. It doesn’t always have to be food. You could make some farm yards and put the same number of animals in each yard, or cars in each garage, books in each box, soft toys on each bed, or cans of food on each shelf. It good for children to do lots of exploring with lots of different things to develop understanding of the concept long before the more formal mathematical terms are introduced.

    Liked by 1 person

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