One of the topics of conversation that keeps coming up in our district when talking about math is always how to teach young children to master their addition and subtraction facts. With getting ready to begin a new math curriculum I am a bit concerned about how we are going to approach this topic moving forward. However, I have learned some ways to incorporate activities throughout the day that work regardless of the curriculum you are using. Here are some ways you can increase math fact fluency practice within the classroom, and help keep it engaging for your students.
FITTING MATH FACT PRACTICE INTO YOUR SCHEDULE
How you increase math fact fluency will be different than how it looks for another teacher. All of the activities mentioned later can be done during different parts of the day to increase math fact fluency:
- Morning Meeting
- Math Meeting
- Morning Work
- Small Group
The important thing to remember is to practice and be consistent. Students will learn the routine, what to expect during that part of the day, and they will look forward to it.
HELP MAINTAIN FOCUS AND INTEREST TO INCREASE MATH FACT FLUENCY
Negative behavior in students begins when they have lost focus, are bored, or have already given up because they lack confidence.
The reason we are encouraged to break our schedules up into smaller chunks is that young students struggle to maintain focus for longer than 15-20 minutes. Any longer than that and students begin to check out. Whereas, higher-level learners can focus for approximately 30 minutes. So, it’s essential to take the 60-minute math lesson and divide it up into smaller amounts of time. It may look something like this:
- Timed Math Facts (5 minutes)
- Mini-lesson (10-15 minutes)
- Guided Practice (5-10 minutes)
- Independent Practice (20 minutes)
The largest time your students spend during a math lesson should be spent on students practicing math skills. And in early elementary, they should have the opportunity to practice their math facts every day! This may not be during the math lesson but could take place as part of morning work or during math centers through a workshop approach.
Increase Math Fact Fluency with Centers
I have found doing all 4 or 5 stations over 2 1/2 hours just doesn’t work for my teaching style. Instead, I teach a whole group lesson for 30 minutes, including a quick review of previous skills at the beginning, along with the new concept. Then, we do 2 center rotations a day, which include:
- Math fact fluency center (Technology, then math games)
- Meet with the teacher
- Math with a Partner (skill review)
- Math by Myself (skill review)
Students should be practicing skills in centers they learned several weeks or months ago. It will help with classroom management during this time of day because students will feel confident in completing the work since they have already learned the strategies for completing the skill.
Having a technology center during this time will also help engage your students and reduce the noise level (with headphones). This will help you to have more effective time with your guided math group and reduce distractions. If you’re concerned about monitoring the apps they are on, Apple Classroom is very helpful because you can monitor student iPads from anywhere in the classroom. You can also have the students who are on iPads sit close to where your guided math group sits so you can see what they are working on by having them sit at desks or tables facing away from you.
Ways to Practice Math Fluency
There are many ways students can increase math fact fluency:
- Digital math games, such as Xtramath or IXL
- Partner or small group games with playing cards or flashcards like War or Kaboom!
- Self-checking puzzles and activities (Color by code, for example)
- Number talks during morning meetings or before a math lesson
- Mental math practice – i.e. timed worksheets where students race the timer (the goal here is to race themselves and record their progress so they can see their growth)
Check out my most popular math game, Shark Math, which is included in this math fact fluency bundle with 6 Games with POPULAR themes for single-digit addition to 20 and subtraction from 10. The themes included are:
- Shark Math Game
- Unicorn Math Game
- Farm Math Card Game
- Bear Math Game
- Dinosaur Math Game
- Alien Activities Math Game
Teach them how to play the math fluency card game once and your students will have a fun and engaging way to practice their addition and subtraction facts throughout the year with 6 POPULAR THEMES so it never gets boring! Use all the cards or choose which cards to use based on the math facts your students are learning.
If you would like to try the math game for FREE, try this Thanksgiving Math Game.
HERE ARE SOME OTHER POSTS ABOUT HOW TO INCREASE MATH FACT FLUENCY:
- Interesting Ocean Math Activities
- How to Increase Student Engagement Using Unicorns and Other Themes
- Two Digit Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping