What is an array? An array in maths is an arrangement of objects, numbers, or pictures in columns or rows. The purpose of a collection is to help children understand multiplication and division.

How do arrays help children understand multiplication and division?

Arrays are a brilliant way of breaking down the relationship between multiplication and division. They do this by highlighting the ‘inverse,’ which essentially means the opposite, and multiplication and division are opposite, making them ‘inverse operations.’

But how do arrays help us with the inverse? If we use the apple diagram below as an example, you could say that it shows three lots of three make nine, or 3 x 3 = 9. However, the diagram also shows how nine can be separated into three equal groups of 3, which is the same as doing 9÷ 3 = 3.

Helping children to learn the equivalent division sum for each of their timetables is an excellent way of teaching children the relationship between multiplication and division. In addition, this will be extremely useful for students in maths assessments as they’ll be able to use the inverse operations to check their answers.

Example of an Array in Maths

In maths, an array will often come with a word problem for the student to work out. For example:

“I have nine bags of apples. In each bag are three apples. How many apples do I have?”

In the below diagram, the apple represents the number of bags. So a teacher may ask the students to count the first bag as three apples. When the student understands each bag in the row has three apples, they can draw a line through the top row. They know the top row has a total of nine apples.


The teacher can then explain that they do not need to count the rest of the apples individually, as they can use the first line to work out the rest.

9 + 9 + 9 = 27

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