Tips for Teaching Fact Fluency

I am sure that I don’t need to tell you the importance of fact fluency for your young students, but I will anyways.
“Lack of automatic recall is a problem as children advance into the middle and later elementary grades, because the need to rely on laborious counting procedures creates a drain on mental resources needed to learning more advanced mathematics.” (Spear-Swerling 2006)
 Think about how often you use addition and subtraction in your life.  It is definitely a lifelong skill.  Our particular math program does not focus much on fact memorization, so we constantly have to find ways to supplement in this area.  I wanted to share some tips for teaching math facts.
The important thing to remember is that children really need a basic understanding of how addition and subtraction works before you start focusing on fact fluency.  If your students do not understand why 3+2=5, then they are not ready to start memorizing their math facts.  These students still need to work on basic number sense and one to one matching with manipulatives.
Use games to keep things fresh and interesting.  I love using games in my classroom.  If students are having fun while learning, they will be more engaged and much more likely to remember what they learned.
You can find fact fluency games in my Addition Fluency packet and my Subtraction Fluency packet.  (I also have a combo packet HERE.)  These are great for partner work or small group work.

The more hands-on my students can be the better.  I love to get them up out of their seats and working with other students.  Games are a great way to review skills or to fill those extra minutes that you have in the day.  I always have plenty of games copied and ready to go.  Whenever I see a need for a change of pace, I can grab a game out of my drawer, and we are ready to practice our learning.

Use manipulatives as much as possible.  Students want to get their hands on things.  I use manipulatives in math as often as possible.

Use technology to practice fact fluency.  We go to the computer lab at school once a week, so we have the ability to use the computers for math fact games.  If you have access to tablets in your classroom (I do not) there are some fantastic math fact apps.
It is important to remember that students will learn their math facts at their own pace.  It is impossible to believe that everyone in your classroom should learn all of their +2’s one week, +3’s the following week, and so on.  Just like anything else, students will learn them at different times.
While learning math facts is extremely important, it is NOT the sole determiner of whether or not a child is good at math.  Some students excel at memorization, while others excel at the higher order thinking portions of math.  Just because a child may be struggling with memorizing their math facts, do not assume that they will struggle with all areas of math.
Most importantly, make learning math facts FUN.

You can find these activities in my Addition and/or Subtraction Fluency packets.

Another simple idea is to change out a Candy Land game to practice fact fluency.  Just write a math fact on each card.  The player must say the answer before moving on the board.
Another fun idea is to have students take turns drawing flash cards from a stack, saying the answer, and then putting them in order from 1-10.  The first player to get all numbers from 1-10 is the winner.
We also love playing Addition Top-It, which is basically the card game War.  Each player turns over two cards and adds the numbers.  The player with the higher sum is the winner of that round and gets all four cards to add to their pile.
Another idea is to write math facts on popsicle sticks.  You can add a star, frowning face, sticker, etc. to some of the sticks.  Players will take turns pulling out sticks and saying the answers.  If a players pulls a stick with a picture, they have to put all of their sticks back into the container.
What are your favorite ways to practice fact fluency?
Want to check out my Addition and Subtraction Fact Fluency packets?  Click on the pictures below.

Similar Posts


  1. Hello Jodi,
    I love how you turned Candyland into a math game for your classroom! Love the idea of simply putting the dominoes right on the white board. That saves so much paper and so little prep. I'm adding that this week to my centers! Thanks for the great idea!
    Susan Hardin
    1st Grade Grapevine

  2. This is a great idea! I wish we had blogs when I was a preschool owner in fact when I started there were no computers. I do know that children learn better when they are having fun. I built by eCommerce store based on that fact. The wide selection of learning activities from science, math, reading and much more is very convenient for all educators and parents. I had my preschool for 20 years and loved playing games with the kids! Now I give back and help other educators enjoy playing learning and have fun. My blog and store site Loved the ideas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *