6 Math Facts Practice Ideas
Students Can't Resist

› Addition

Top math facts practice strategies for addition that can be used in any classroom, including number bonds and math games.  

Kids need strategies for learning their basic facts. We want to develop procedural fluency in math (National Research Council, 2001).

But there is a difference between being fluent and having automaticity. 

Being fluent means that our students instinctively understand how to manipulate numbers and have strategies to use to do that mentally. 

Over time, most students will develop their own efficient techniques that will lead to automaticity, but nothing beats straightforward practice.

We'll start with specific strategies for math addition facts, then you can hop over to the next page for more strategies for math facts practice in subtraction, multiplication and division.

Addition Facts

1.  Build Number Sense

  • You can build their number sense through:
  • Counting 1,2,3 (prepares for adding on, 1 to 1 correspondence and relative position)
  • Subitizing (identifying small amounts without counting)
  • Compose and decompose numbers
  • Part to Whole activities (focus on amounts up to 10 for early learners; most often introduced through the use of number bonds)
  • Place Value activities and games (it takes many exposures and experiences for students to begin to internalize this concept)

2. Build on what they already know

Use the doubles as a starting point for math addition facts. For example, 4 + 4 and 6 + 6 are easier for a child to remember. Then teach them how to use these doubles as a strategy for solving other combinations, such as 4 + 5 and 7 + 6.

You must be explicit with showing your thinking. Say, "This is what I did in my head while solving this problem. I know that 6 + 6 = 12, so I first used my doubles," (write or draw this on the board). "Then I added one more to the sum since 7 is one more than 6," (again, show this on the board). "That gives me a sum of 13. 7 + 6 = 13."

3. Counting on

"Counting on" is efficient only when the number being added on is less than 5.  If we use it beyond addends of 5, children start to use their fingers, which is reinforcing an inefficient strategy (see essentials of teaching mathematics). Always begin from the larger of the two numbers.

4. 10 Frame Fill

When learning math addition facts that make a ten, use a Ten Frame for create a visual image.

This is highly important for students who have difficulty with using their gestalt imagery for manipulating numbers. These students lack a concrete image of what numbers look like while they are being added.

The Ten Frame below shows a visual image of 7 + 3 = 10.

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5. Joining All or Counting All

Let's use the example of 6 + 2. Using number cubes, make a set of 6 and another set of 2. Join them together (the two sets become one), and count the joined set.

Be sure to point at each cube as you and the student counts.

6. Make a Ten or Using a Ten

Students use the knowledge built from a Ten Frame to find the sums of larger numbers. Using this strategy, we can teach students to use the derived fact of "what makes a ten" to solve the equation.

For example, to find 8 + 3, teach the student to decompose 3 into 2 + 1. Use that to show them that 8 + 2 = 10. 10 + 1 = 11, so 8 + 3 = 11.

A more advanced way could be: 14 + 9 = 9 + 1 + 10 + 3 = 10 + 10 + 3 = 23.

While this may seem to take a long time, with practice it becomes a very efficient method for calculating the sums of larger numbers and mastering math facts.

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