Memorizing Multiplication Facts
I write out the multiplication facts (0x0 to 12x12) on the chalkboards; that's 169 problems in all! Then I tell my students to copy them all down and that for homework they'll be tested on those facts shortly. You can imagine the complaints!
I remind them that math is filled with patterns and ask them if they can discover any patterns in the multiplication problems. Pretty quickly, someone spots that any number times zero equals zero. I erase 25 problems from the board, and we're off and running!
They quickly teach themselves the rules for multiplying by ones, twos, fives, tens, and most of the elevens. Someone notices that 3x4 is the same as 4x3 and that there are others like that, so the remaining duplicates are eliminated. What we have left are a paltry 23 multiplication problems that they have to write down and learn (far less than the 169 we started with).
We practice a few each week, knowing that distributed practice is how students learn their facts, and within a couple of months, all of the second graders know their multiplication facts through the twelves!