Fact Fluency Through Subitizing

Addition fact fluency is such an important concept for first grade students. Your students can practice flash cards and play fact games all day but a faster way to fluency is through subitizing! Your students will be learning their facts in an interesting way which will allow the facts to stick so that they know them quickly from memory. #mathfacts #subitizing #addition
Last summer, along with a few other math bloggers, I did a book study on the book Teaching Student Centered Mathematics By John Van de Walle, LouAnn Lovin, Karen Karp, and Jennifer Bay-Williams. Chapter 8 revolved around developing number sense and outlined a series of important number relationships. One of these number relationships includes benchmarks of 5 and 10. When we return from break I will be focusing on benchmarks of 5 and fact fluency with 5+ facts… but maybe not in the way you would expect.

Take a quick look at this picture: 

How many snowflakes did you see? Chances are you knew that there were 7 without having to count each individual snowflake. You saw a group of 5 and 2 more and knew that there were 7. My students are able to do this as well. They see the picture and say “7” and can even articulate “I saw a 5 and then I know 2 more is 7” or “I saw a 5 and a 2 and that makes 7”.
But for my tier 3 students if I were to show them the equation 5 + 2 they would NOT automatically say 7. Until this next week that is 🙂 
Sometimes all it takes is a little push to make what is intuitive in one setting -visual dot patterns- a piece of knowledge that can be generalized into other settings.
In order to make the 5+ facts automatic for my students I will go back to flashing dot pictures (or snowflake pictures 🙂 ) asking how many and having explicit conversations about what they knew, how they knew it and what this might look like in other forms.

Questions and prompts will include:
*How many snowflakes do you see? 
*How do you know? 
*What parts do you see in the picture?
*Could you write a number bond that shows those parts? 
*What would the total be? 
*What equation matches the snowflakes and your number bond? 

Another variation of this activity will include flashing a dot picture and then asking students to reproduce the picture using bingo dabbers or Q-tips and paint. They could then create a number bond and number sentence that match what they know.

Finally, I would end a lesson by throwing in some 5+ flashcards mixed with other facts that they know such as 1+ or 0+ facts. I do want my students to become automatic in their facts and these activities will allow them to be automatic, however, I never want my students to overgeneralize a new understanding. If you want to read more on how I strategically use flash cards you can read this post here. 

**The snowflake 5 facts activity highlighted in this post is a part of my winter themed math centers for first grade students found HERE*

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