Recognize Fact Relationships
This first activity isn’t necessarily for your students- it’s for the teacher!
Stop trying to teach so many math facts. If you consider every fact from 0+0 to 10+10 and all of the related subtraction facts you will need to instruct (and your students will need to remember) over 200 individual math facts!
This is why fact fluency activities that through the 0+, 1+, 2+, 3+, etc. facts takes way too long and doesn’t work for the majority of your students.
Instead, notice fact relationships! When you recognize these relationships and provide instruction around them (rather than individual facts) fluency will start to grow much more quickly.
I have a free fact fluency guide that includes a fact relationship chart if you are interested in learning more about this strategy.
Play With Dominoes
Dominoes are an excellent tool to use in your fact fluency activities because they include built-in visual cues for your students! Spatial relationships are one of the four number relationships that help to build number sense according to John Van De Walle. When we play games and complete activities using tools like dominoes or dice we are boosting fact fluency and number sense at the same time!
Activities can be as simple as choosing a domino and recording a matching addition equation or as complicated as sorting tiles by number relationships (doubles, doubles plus one, 1+ facts, 0+ facts, partners of ten, etc.).
Explore Number Strings
Number strings in math are very much like word ladders in phonics instruction. You are starting with a known concept and introducing one problem at a time to slowly stretch and extends your students’ thinking.
For example, if your students are fluent around the idea of one more/one less and are also showing confidence with their doubles facts, you might use number strings to stretch your students’ thinking around near doubles facts.
3 + 3 =?
3 + 4 =?
How does knowing 3 + 3 help us to solve a fact like 3 + 4?
4 + 4 =?
4 + 5 = ?
5 + 4 = ?
How does knowing 4 + 5 help us to solve 5 + 5?
This article, written by Rachel Lambert, Kara Imm, and Dina A. Williams does an excellent job of explaining, in detail, about using number sense to improve your students’ math skills. (The first article on the page, published in Teaching Children Mathematics is the article you are looking to click on!)
Use Playing Cards In Your Fact Fluency Activities
Much like dominoes, playing cards have visual models directly built in. Any time you see a visual model you know you are boosting fact fluency AND number sense at the same time- it’s a win-win!
Additionally, playing cards and games using playing cards introduce a level of strategy into your practice. Strategy = automatic differentiation. For example, take the game “You Pick Two”. Two students each flip over 3 playing cards. They then select two cards and add them to find a sum. Whichever player has the greater sum gets to collect all 6 cards.
It’s a twist on the traditional game “war” which requires students to consider how they might make the greatest sum when choosing from 3 numbers. Any one of your students would be successful in playing this game but students who are ready for a bit more challenge can lean into the strategy!
Play Fact Fluency Games
Even if you are instructing using fact relationships, you are building in visual models and you are helping your students to make connections between facts they know and new relationships, at the end of the day your students will need to mentally access these facts over and over and over before they move into their long term memory.
This is where games come in! Let your students practice in a format that feels like fun- not work- so that they enjoy the process of acquiring their facts.
I have created fact fluency games for partners that will get your students on the right track. I have made these fun for students and EASY to use for teachers.
- Each game requires one printable page. Make copies and keep them in a folder OR print and laminate.
- Each game requires ONE hands-on tool. Either a paperclip (to use as a spinner), dominoes, playing cards or dice.
- 5 Addition games and 5 subtraction games are included for each tool (for a total of FORTY games- you’ll be set for the year!)