One common theme I see as a tutor is that my math students (elementary and middle) just don't know their math facts! With the implementation of Common Core Standards, I am finding that teachers are so focused on meeting all these new standards, they forget to spend adequate time teaching basic math facts.
Not teaching math facts is holding back my students from learning all the new concepts. I spend a lot of time with my students recalling math facts. I patiently wait while they count on their fingers, do fancy tricks, or add them all up on one piece of paper.
Achieving Math Fact Fluency
This year, I started using Laura Candler's Mastering Math Facts book to help my students start achieving math fact fluency. I was excited that she has completely revamped her entire book and doubled it's size! I heard that she was asking for reviewers for her new book and I couldn't help but get excited about it!
The opening pages of the amazing book really hit home for me. Laura explains why experts think math facts are important, “These experts agree that it is critical that our students memorize math facts. But why? Most children have easy access to calculators, and many adults don’t remember the times tables. In today’s world, why is memorizing math facts so necessary? The answer is fluency. Fluency is just as important to math success as it is to reading. Students who struggle to decode each word will never improve their reading comprehension until they improve their reading fluency. In the same way, students who are counting times tables on their fingers are doomed to fail in mathematics. How can they learn to divide or reduce fractions when all their mental powers are devoted to recalling basic math facts?”
I could not agree more!
Common Core Aligned Math Games
As I turned the pages, I was so excited to see each game was aligned with the Common Core Standards. There were lots of new games too like Hula Hoop Multiplication for introducing multiplication and Cookie and Chips. Both involve active engagement practices and I know my students would love them! In the Hula Hoop game it calls for several students to play, but in a tutoring session, it's usually just one student. I would use bean bags or some other object for them to throw into the hoops.
As I've used Mastering Math Facts with my students, I have seen their fluency getting better each time they come. I only see them twice a week as well! They love the games and request them frequently. I thought I would show you one of the games inside this book that you can also download for free from Laura.
“In the Dog House” is such a fun game! You put “bones” in a pile (you can use paper clips or chips). Then remove face cards from a deck of playing cards. Deal out five cards to each player and place the remaining deck in the Dog Pen. Each player chooses two cards to multiply. They put their cards face down in the Dog House until the other player is ready. When both are ready, they flip their cards over and multiply. Whoever has the largest product, wins a bone. If they state the product wrong, the other player gets a bone. The person with the most bones win!
This game was becoming so popular that I decided to keep my eyes open for bone shaped candy or erasers. As always, Target came through for me! I was in the dollar spot and saw these bone erasers. They were just a $1.00 with 5 in a package. My students were even more excited to see bones for the game.
You can download In the Dog House from Laura for free! I know that most tutors want to avoid spending money on resources for their tutoring business, but I am telling you-this is worth the investment! You won't be scrambling to figure out what to do for teaching math facts, Laura has put it all together for you. It is worth every penny. So go check it out!
As a parent, I am planning on using this program with my kids this summer so that when they go back in the fall, they have got it down! My first grader son will be working on adding and subtracting and my third grader son will be working on multiplication and division. It's going to be fun seeing them earn their ice cream party! Go check it out at Teaching Resources.