Maria has been doing math since she was in diapers; she just didn’t know it. Now, though, she is starting to be able to name what she is doing, which, at this age, is lots of multiplication and division! Maria should learn these operations using patterns and conceptual understanding, not just rote memorization. If she can see reversibility, like: 32 ÷ 8=? is the same as 8 x ? = 32, she will have a firmer understanding of how multiplication and division are related. Similarly, Maria should understand the properties of multiplication: commutative property (6 x 4 = 24 and 4 x 6 = 24), associative property ([3 x 5] x 2 = [3 x 5 = 15] x 2= 30, or [5 x 2 = 10] x 3 = 30), and distributive property (8 x 5 = 40 and 8 x 2 = 16, so 8 x 7 = 8 x (5+2) = 56). Using real world math problems encourages students to practice math all the time. Introducing distance, time, and money word problems that involve solving for the unknown may inspire Maria to figure out on her own how long it will take her mom to get to school, or how much change her mom should get at the grocery store. At the end of 5th grade, Maria should be able to solve this algebra problem: 25, 36, ?, 64, 81, 100 What is the missing number in this pattern?