Driving along in the car recently, my 5 year old asked a question (which I can’t even remember now!) that led us to trying to explain multiplication to her. She then wanted us to give her word problems to work out i.e. if I had 3 bags of apples, with 2 apples in each bag, how many apples do I have altogether? She was getting most of them right but I still felt she wasn’t understanding exactly and I needed a visual way to show her.
When we got home, we got out the Spielgaben and used the circles and dots to demonstrate.
I would give her a word problem and she would use the circles to represent how many groups there were, and the dots to represent how many were in each group. Seeing it this way made it a much easier concept for her to grasp.
I then showed her what a multiplication sum looked like, and she worked out a few of them. Pretty soon I was giving her a word problem and she was figuring out how to write the multiplication sum from that and then using the Spielgaben to find the answer.
Being only 5 years old, explaining multiplication to her verbally was too abstract for her to fully understand. Getting her to make the problem in a hands-on way really helped her visualize what multiplication means.