critical thinking / fifth grade / homeschool / MS Excel / teacher resources

How to Use Excel to Teach Math Arrays

Grade Level: 5th (or whichever grade you are teaching arrays)

Background: None. This is an intro to MS Excel

Vocabulary: Excel, cell, rows, columns, paint bucket, borders, arrays, resize, formulas

Time: About 30 minutes


  • Open Excel. Review the basics–how to identify a cell (where the column and row intersect), what’s on the toolbars, especially where the paint bucket and border tools are found
  • Resize the cells so they are square. Here’s how you do that:
  • Select the cell at the top left where rows and columns intersect. That will select the entire worksheet.
  • Set the row height to 25 pixels by clicking the line between row 1 and 2 and dragging it to a 25 pixel size.
  • Set the column width to 25 pixels the same way
  • When yo click out of the entire worksheet selection, the cells will resize. It’ll look like graph paper.
  • Add name, teacher, ‘problem’ and ‘array as shown


  • Add the first problem. I’ll use 3*3
  • Add the formula underneath it for the answer

= A5*A6 (Excel automatically calculates the answer for the two digits in A5 and A6)

  • Fill in 3 cells over and 3 cells down to create the array.
  • Use the border tool–all borders to outline each cell in the array


  • Have students do two more of your choice
  • Have students create one of their own, to confirm that they understand


  • Fill in the row with ‘Problem’ and ‘Array’
  • Change font size for the headings

from the Structured Learning Technology series for K-5

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.



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