February 23, 2019
by Kerry McKee

EL Support Lesson

Fact Family Houses

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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Dots & Dots of Fact Families lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Dots & Dots of Fact Families lesson plan.

Students will be able to write related addition and subtraction facts within 20.


Students will be able to describe the steps to write related addition and subtraction facts with content-specific vocabulary using visual and partner support.

(3 minutes)
  • Project a domino on the document camera, or draw one on the board. Ask students what shape the domino is (rectangle).
  • Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about what they notice about the domino using the sentence frame, "I notice ____."
  • Call on students to share observations, and record student ideas on the board. For example, the domino is divided in half, or two equal parts. There are circles, or dots, on each half of the domino.
  • Explain that dominoes can be used to play games, and invite students to share a way that they have played with dominoes.
  • Tell students that today the class will count the dots on dominoes and write fact families. Define a fact family as a group of math facts that uses the same numbers. Explain that "fact" means that something is true, and that math facts are true number statements. Display the Vocabulary Cards as key vocabulary is introduced.
(10 minutes)
  • Project a domino with 7 dots on one half and 3 dots on the other. Tell students to count the dots on the left side of the domino together, and write "7" on the board,
  • Tell students to count the dots on the right side of the domino, and write "3" next to the number 7.
  • Explain that you want to know how many dots are on the domino in all. Ask students which math operation is needed (addition), and which math symbol show addition (plus sign). Tell students to form a cross with their arms and repeat, "plus sign, addition."
  • Review that addition is the math operation of solving for the total of two parts or more parts. Model counting on from 7 to solve for the total number of dots, and complete the equation 7 + 3 = 10.
  • Point under the equation, and have students read the equation chorally, "Seven plus three equals ten."
  • Tell students that you will now flip the domino upside down, and show students that now there are three dots on the left and seven on the right. Ask students to give you a thumbs up if the total number of dots has changed (thumbs down).
  • Think aloud, "Yes, even though the parts are in a different order, the total number is still the same!"
  • Write the equation 3 + 7 = 10 on the board, and explain that this is sometime called the turn around fact. Define turn around fact as a math addition fact that has the same two parts in a different order.
  • Tell students that you will now use the numbers from the domino to write subtraction facts. Define subtraction as the math operation of solving for an unknown part.
  • Ask students how many dots there are in total on the domino, and write 10 on the board. Cover half of the domino and say, "Let's pretend that we know the total number of dots, but can only see one half of the domino. What subtraction fact could help us figure out how many dots are on the other half?"
  • Guide students to subtract one part to solve for the unknown part. Ask students which math symbol is used to subtract (minus sign), and have students hold one arm parallel to the floor and repeat, "minus sign, subtraction."
  • Write 10 - 3 = 7, and show the hidden half of the domino. Next, hide the other side and write 10 - 7 = 3.
  • Review the four related facts with the class.
  • Show a few more examples. Include at least one domino where the number of dots on each half is equal. Guide students to determine an addition fact, e.g. 4 + 4 = 8. Explain that since the parts are the same, there is no turn around fact. These facts are called doubles facts. Doubles means two. The two parts of these addition facts are both the same.
  • Ask students to suggest a subtraction number sentence, and write 8 - 4 = 4. Point out that if there are the same number of dots on each half of the domino, there will only be one addition and one subtraction fact in the fact family.
(10 minutes)
  • Reflect that just like the students are related to people in their family, math facts in the same fact family are related, or connected, to each other.
  • Tell students that today they will choose a domino and create a house for a fact family using the dots on the domino.
  • Model the activity by showing students a square, and then gluing a triangle above the square to create a simple house.Tell students to repeat, "square, triangle" as you point to each shape.
  • Choose a domino (e.g. five dots on one half and four on the other). Say, "My first step is to draw the domino inside the roof of the house."
  • Think aloud as you draw a rectangle inside the triangular "roof." Divide the rectangle in half, and draw five dots on the left half and four on the right.
  • Tell students to turn and talk to a partner to decide which three numbers will be included in the fact family. Provide the sentence frame, "I think the numbers are ____ because ____."
  • Allow a few students to share, encouraging them to justify why they choose specific numbers. Model writing 5 and 4 in the bottom corners of the triangle, and 9 in the top corner.
  • Tell students that the next step is to write the related facts in the house. Tell students to share the two addition facts that belong in the house with a partner.
  • Model writing 5 + 4 = 9 and 4 + 5 = 9 inside the square part of the house.
  • Ask students to share two related subtraction facts with their partner. Catch yourself making a mistake by writing 5 - 4 = 9. Think aloud, "That has all three number, 5, 4 and 9, but it does not make sense because I know that 5 - 4 = 1. I need to start with the total number of dots, and subtract one part. Can anyone help me write a subtraction fact that makes sense?"
  • Complete the fact family, writing 9 - 4 = 5 and 9 - 5 = 4.
(15 minutes)
  • Write the steps for the activity on the board:
    1. Glue the triangle above the square.
    2. Choose a domino. Copy the domino inside the triangle.
    3. Write the number of dots on each half of the domino and the total number of dots in the three corners of the triangle.
    4. Write the fact family inside the square.
  • Tell students to describe the steps to do the activity to a partner using words including first, next, then and last.
  • Distribute precut squares, triangles and glue to students and have them make the house.
  • Distribute dominoes to students, and instruct them to choose one.
  • Tell students to copy the domino on the triangle.
  • Instruct students to work with a partner to decide which three numbers to include on the fact family. Allow them to use the sentence frame, "I think the numbers are ____ because ____." After students are in agreement with their partner, they can write the three numbers in the corners of the triangle.
  • Tell students that they will now write two addition facts and two subtraction facts in the square.
  • When they finish, have them share the facts with a partner. The partner should check, "Do these facts use the three numbers from the domino? Do these facts make sense?"


  • Work with students in a teacher-led small group to create the fact family house. Guide students in explaining how the facts are related referencing the dots on the domino.
  • Allow students to say the related facts in their home language (L1). If possible pair students who speak the same L1 during the partner activity.


  • Instruct students to explain the steps to write a fact family in their own words.
  • Ask students to explain how addition and subtraction are related.
  • Circulate as students work on the project. Prompt them to explain their thinking by asking guiding questions such as, "How do you know that those three numbers are in the fact family?" and "What type of math fact do you need to write next?"
  • If students make errors, ask them to explain their thinking. Encourage the self-correction of errors rather than rushing to provide the correct answer.
  • Collect the houses, and check for accuracy. Assess that students wrote three numbers that match the dots they drew on the domino. Check that students correctly wrote the addition and subtraction facts.
(2 minutes)
  • Remind students that knowing addition facts can help them solve related subtraction facts.
  • Allow a few students to share their houses. Guide students to explain how they chose the three numbers for the fact family, and the process they followed to write the related addition and subtraction facts.
  • Display student work on a bulletin board.

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