Multiplication - the Halving and Doubling Strategy

Multiplication - the Halving and Doubling Strategy

Learning math at elementary school age is a little bit like collecting tools for a tool kit. 

Here's a useful tool that can come in handy to simplify some tricky looking multiplication.

Multiplying using the halving and doubling strategy 

When you're faced with a multiplication like:

4 x 16 = ?

You have a number of methods to use:

  1. Short multiplication  - the written method we all learnt at school - here's a video to remind you

  2. The grid method as discussed in this article

  3. The distributive law - which sounds scary but basically means 'splitting' it into two easy multiplications - so 4 x 16 becomes (4 x 10) + (4 x 6)

  4. Or sometimes, such as in this example, it's just perfect for the Half and Double Method

Using the halving and doubling method, we can halve one side of the multiplication as long as we double the other - and the answer remains the same.


4 x 16 


8 x 8 = 64


Here is another example which looks a little tricky at first:

34 x 5 = ?

But after using the half and double method it becomes:

17 x 10 = 170


The method also works very well with some fractions like this:

3½  x 12 = ?

Doubling removes the fraction so it becomes:

3½  x 12 =  7 x 6 = 42


Likewise with decimals:

4.5  x 8   =  9 x 4  = 36


The key to using the halving and doubling strategy is choosing when it makes the problem easier. Here is a guide:

  • Is one of the sides 5? If so, doubling will give 10 which is easy.

  • Is the side I need to halve even?

  • Does one side include a half or 0.5? If so doubling will remove it.

And that's it. A handy little multiplication strategy to add to your 'math toolkit'.  

I'm Ged, Co-founder of Komodo, ex-math teacher and dad. If you have any questions please get in touch. 

About Komodo - Komodo is a fun and effective way to to boost elementary math skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning math (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in math - without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at math - you can even try Komodo for free.

Related Posts

What the Karate Kid teaches us about practice - and how it works for math too

From the art of practice, to building strong foundations, there's a lot to be learned from the Karate Kid which we can apply to learning maths.

Math - The Anchor of STEM

We hear a lot about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects opening the door to more career opportunities than ever before.