We all know the first floor of a house has to be solid before you start building the second floor. (No squeaks or shaky ceilings in my house, please!) The same goes for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade math students.
They need to build a solid foundation in mental math before they can add start working on complex calculations. Having a rock-solid foundation in math fact fluency and accuracy will improve their confidence as they explore new concepts. But how can we help our students master fact fluency with ease?
I’m going to share 5 of my favorite tricks for mastering fact fluency in the upper elementary grades.
Take it one factor at a time.
Make fact practice part of your daily routine.
Make fact fluency part of the at-home routine.
Give students leveled practice.
Practice fact fluency in the digital world.
Take it one factor at a time
Whether students are learning their addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts for the first time OR they’re going back to strengthen their foundation, it’s important to focus on one fact at a time.
Helping students focus on a single fact family at a time builds confidence. You know how exciting it is when you start to see success with something and build your way up to harder concepts? It’s the same for kids! Once they get a little momentum, there’s no telling what they can do!
When you isolate factors, students can also begin to notice patterns. Students will begin to rely on these mental math skills to arrive at an answer when they’re stuck.
Make fact practice part of your daily routine
Those little windows of time during your school day are perfect for math fact practice. Got 5 minutes before recess? Time to practice those math facts! 10 minutes in between lunch and P.E.? Let’s play an addition fact game! We teachers always know how to squeeze in some extra learning opportunities, and mental math is a skill that needs to be practiced daily.
Think of it this way. Even if you were a very skilled guitar player, you would struggle with too many days away from your guitar. You’d tell people, “I used to play guitar, but now I’m a little rusty.” Without daily practice, even the most talented musicians (and mathematicians) start to lose important skills.
So the next time you need 10 minutes to clear off your desk or work with a small group, be sure you have plenty of fact practice activities on hand. One of my FAVORITE activities for a few minutes of quiet and meaningful fact practice are the color by number activities included in my Math Fact Fluency bundle.
Whether your students are working on addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division- printing these activities and having them on hand will help students fit in practice each day.
Make fact fluency part of the at-home routine
As your students begin to master their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts, they will be happily skipping home to share their progress with their family. You can make sharing at home simple by setting families up with opportunities to continue the practice.
Math Fact Fluency Flashcards
Inside the Math Fact Bundles, you’ll find printable math fact fluency flashcards students can use at home while they wait for dinner, or on the car ride to school!
Math Fact Fluency Mini-Reports
Send a mini-report home as students master each factor, so families know exactly how they’re progressing. Students will love to share these WINS with their grown-ups, and families will know exactly where to support their children.
Keeping families in the loop on student progress with fact fluency helps strengthen that foundation and gives families something tangible to help with at home! When we make it simple for families and teachers to team up, there’s no telling what can happen!
Give students leveled practice
You don’t need me to tell you how important leveled math practice is, but this is especially true when it comes to building fact fluency. Students need to feel that success and momentum, and they need to build this skill up as they go. The path to learning won’t look the same for 2 students.
An easy way to do this is to set up Math Fact Folders. Here’s how:
Print out the math activities for each factor.
Place the activities for each factor in a folder, label it. (Example: 2’s)
Give students a pre-test to determine which folder is just right for independent work.
Let students choose activities from the folder at their level!
When they’ve mastered one factor, give them a certificate… then it’s onto the next!
Practice fact fluency in the digital world
Getting immediate feedback on fact fluency practice is an important part of the learning process. We may be fast with our Flair pens, but computers are faster! Students can benefit from digital fact fluency practice, so they get that immediate response and opportunity to correct their mistakes.
Boom cards are a simple way for students to practice math fact fluency and accuracy. They’re self-checking, and they allow you to track student progress. Get started with fact practice today by purchasing any of these Boom Card sets for your learners.
Help your upper elementary students fill in the gaps by practicing fact fluency at their level as part of your daily math routine. Give students the opportunity to build confidence in mental math, strengthening the foundation of their math knowledge.
Do you have a tip for increasing fact fluency and accuracy? Leave a comment below!