Definition: In math, an array refers to a set of numbers or objects that will follow a specific pattern. An array is an orderly arrangement, often in rows, columns or a matrix. Arrays are used in multiplication and division as it shows a great visual to show how multiplication can be shown as repeated addition and division can be shown as fair shares.
There are many authentic examples of arrays that help with the understanding of how using arrays can help students to see efficient strategies. Consider a box of chocolates or a crate of oranges that have an arrangment of 12 across and 8 down (8 across, 5 down, 12 across 12 down etc.). Rather than count each one, they multiply 12 x 8 which aids understanding about why it's an efficient strategy to use multiplication and see why multiplication works.
Pronunciation: A Ray
Arrays are most helpful when teaching young learners to multiply. We often refer to multiplication as fast adding. When a child sees arrays of chocolates, eggs, fruit etc. it provides an authentic experience for making the link to multiplication.