Well, we actually started off using chocolate chips, and then I realized, by the time we got to multiples of 4, that that would be way too many chocolate chips (I was letting Maylin eat them after the activity).
Math manipulatives are great. You can use legos, wooden blocks, beans,...just about anything. Kids love to do physical activities, and I think, probably learn more when their bodies are actively engaged in their lessons as well as their minds. For math, being able to see the math problem in front of them in concrete form is so much more meaningful than memorizing a whole bunch of facts (which is how I was taught growing up).
If you'd like to replicate our lesson, follow these simple instructions.
1. If you want to introduce multiples of two, then get two identical containers (I used Pyrex custard cups), and 24 Cheerios.
2. On a piece of paper, write out the number problems for 2x0 up to 2x12, leaving a blank for the answer to be written in.
3. Go over 2x0 and 2x1 with the child, showing that two times nothing is nothing, and that two times one Cheerio is two Cheerios (child writes in answers after counting the Cheerios you've placed in the containers).
4. Let child do the rest of the problems independently (adding one Cheerio to each container for each additional problem), but do check in once in awhile to make sure s/he understands the concept.
5. If the child shows enthusiasm for doing more, pursue multiples of 3s and 4s. Compare answers for 2x10, 3x10, and 4x10, as well as 2x11, 3x11, and 4x11, and have child look for patterns and determine answers for larger numbers.