Being fast and efficient with basic math facts makes a world of a difference in all areas of math. When facts are not a chore to figure out, new concepts themselves can be the focus of instruction and work. Unfortunately, learning math facts is often a frustrating and boring task. Just thinking about how math facts were drilled into me as a child through flashcards and time tests makes my hands sweat and my pulse rise.
With my children now doing school at home, I didn’t want to repeat this experience for myself or for any of the boys. But, I also knew that math facts themselves can be the key to being able to do more complicated math with ease so we had to figure out how to practice these facts well, with great frequency and with less stress.
Enter our daily math fact practice.
Monday – Dice Roll. Roll two dice and add or multiply them together (depending on the skill you are working on).
Tuesday – Top It. This game is quite similar to war in that you are looking to have the highest number but is different because you draw two cards off of a pile in the center and then add (or multiply if you are older) your cards together before finding who has the greatest number. This person wins all of the cards. The person with the most cards when the center pile runs out wins.
Wednesday – Fast Facts Challenge on the iPad. Our boys don’t use technology often but now and again this is the best way to motivate them to work through a more monotonous task. For this challenge we use an app simply called Math Facts and they see how quickly they can complete between 30 and 50 problems. Though this is a bit like those dreaded time tests of my childhood, the boys don’t mind at all because there is an element of different.
Thursday – Student’s Choice. Sometimes the boys choose to play a game and sometimes they choose the iPad again and either answer is okay with me. This is the day where I give them agency to decide what is best for them.
Friday – Fact Path Game. We play this as a whole family. The person whose turn it is pulls two number cards from the pile and then must answer the math problem based on those cards. If they answer correctly, they roll a die and move their player along a path. What path? Any game board with a path will do. We often use Candyland or Chutes and Ladders but it really doesn’t matter.
I’m not going to claim that all of the boys are math fact wizards. But, I will tell you that their facts have become exponentially faster since we started doing daily facts practice at the beginning of this school year. For boys who relied heavily on 100s charts and multiplication grids, this is a big step towards independence and fluency. For me, I’m so glad we’ve found a s way to practice that requires nearly no prep or assistance from me and only 5-10 minutes from them. How do you practice math facts? Do you keep it smart? Is it simple?