Are you staring at another long packet of your child's math facts wondering how she (and you) will ever stay focused long enough to finish it? More often than not, practice of math facts is limited to timed drill sheets and flashcards. But kids are more likely to tune in to math facts if practice is presented as a game. In addition, the practice session will fly by because you and your child are having a blast! Here's an activity that puts it all together.
What You Do:
Step 1: Cut paper and make several (20-30) “fact family strips” that contain four numbers—three numbers in a fact family and one number that doesn’t belong. See examples of fact families below.
Step 2: Before beginning the game, review basic fact families with your child. Explain that a fact family is a set of three numbers that are all “related” by multiplication and division. For example, 5, 8 and 40 are a fact family because 5 x 8 = 40, 8 x 5 = 40, 40 ÷ 5 = 8, 40 ÷ 8 = 5. Provide several examples of fact families before starting the game. Write down the fact family and ask your child to tell you the multiplication and division facts that can be made with the numbers.
Examples of Fact Families:
2, 4, 8 6, 7, 42 2, 5, 10 3, 5, 15
3, 6, 18 7, 8, 56 3, 9, 27 6, 8, 48
4, 5, 20 8, 9, 72 4, 6, 24 7, 9, 63
5, 6, 30 9, 10, 90 5, 7, 35 8, 12, 96
Step 3: Explain the rules of the game to your child. She will be given a group of four numbers, three that make up a fact family and one that doesn’t belong. She must correctly identify the number that doesn’t belong and then state a division fact using the numbers in the fact family. Set a timer for 2 minutes and begin. Encourage your child to work through as many “fact family strips” as possible in two minutes. At the end of two minutes, count the number of strips in which she correctly identified the fact family and stated a division fact using the numbers.
Step 4: Challenge your child to beat her record. For example, if she identified 8 fact families in 2 minutes, give her a new goal of identifying 10 fact families in two minutes. Set the timer and begin. Offer a small reward if she beats her record. Shorten the time to one minute and repeat the process. Continue shortening the time and setting new goals for your child.
This game can be spread out over several days. Keep track of the time and record your child's sets identifying fact families. Each night, challenge her to beat her record before she begins her math homework. This can serve as a great energizer!
Note: An alternative way to play “Find the Fact Family” is to have your child “face-off” with a friend. Place the fact family strip between the two players and the first player to correctly identify the number that doesn’t belong wins the strip. The player with the most strips at the end of two minutes wins the round.
Brigid Del Carmen has a Master's Degree in Special Education with endorsements in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders/Emotional Impairments. Over the past eight years, she has taught Language Arts, Reading and Math in her middle school special education classroom.