When a child can answer 7 + 8 quickly and correctly we know they're developing strategies for number fact retrieval. And when you've spent the last two weeks teaching them the mental math strategy – doubles plus one, this quick response is what you want to hear.
But is it fluency?
What is Fact Fluency?
Fact fluency is more than the ability to recall the answers to the basic math facts automatically and without hesitation. It also requires students to be flexible with their thinking.
I was playing this game with a student recently.
The game required the student to spin a number, subtract it from 11 and then add four. She realized trying to calculate the answer was slowing her down, so instead, she subtracted it from 10 and added 5.
This is flexibility.
She found a successful strategy that helped her answer the equation quickly and confidently.
Of course, she also loved the competitive element of a game. I doubt I would have gotten the same response from a worksheet.
Use Games to Develop Fact Fluency
Providing frequent opportunities for students to practice applying their mental math strategies in a fun and motivating way, helps them develop fluency. Games are the perfect avenue to do this.
You can also encourage some wonderful math talk by asking your kids to discuss the strategy they intend to use to get the answer. Have them discuss which strategy might be the most effective. Not everyone will have the same strategy and it opens students up to new ways of working out the answer.
Fact Fluency Games
These monthly packs are so easy to prepare. I'm not a fan of a huge amount of preparation, which means I hate cutting. I like to print it, laminate or place the game in a page protector and let the kids play. All they need is a paper clip and dry erase markers.
There are three different game formats for each monthly pack so once I've taught the game my students can play it without needing my help. The visual rules are also available if they need more guidance.
This game requires students to spin an equation, answer it and color the answer. The aim of the game is to get the most answers colored in a row. Of course, players love to block each other to stop each other from winning.
Partner games are great because players are always quick to spot any inconsistencies in their partner's answer so the game becomes self-correcting in a way.
During play children record the equations they make, sometimes on the recording sheet provided, other times on a mini whiteboard. Of course, there are times when they are just playing for fun – that means no writing down of anything.
This game is my absolute favorite game format. Kids love it. It's actually a bump game in disguise. The first player to make the answer traces around the slice of pie. If their partner also gets the answer they can steal it by coloring it in or initialing it.
Another style of game requires players to add or subtract two numbers and trace the answer. You may have noticed that this is a black ink game. It makes it perfect to send home for homework. Because students need to record the equations they've made, you know they've completed their task. I also like to use the black ink copies for fast finishers to play independently.
Organizing your Fact Fluency Games
Organizing your games is easy. I put each month's set in its own file box. These ones I found at the dollar store in lots of different colors. The labels can be found in the bundle of 220 games.
During math rotations I let the students choose a game from the box to play with their partner. There are 20 different games to choose from each month so effectively your kids could play a different game each day for four weeks.
Daily practice of their addition and subtraction facts is really going to help them develop and maintain fact fluency. And they will be excited to do it – no boring worksheets!
Grab a Freebie
If you'd love some free games, these three games from my August pack are available to download from my free resource library for Teaching Trove subscribers. I use these all year long because they have the universal theme of school and friendship.
Just click on the game you want or grab all three.
If you're ready to make fact fluency part of your everyday classroom routine, this huge bundle of 220 games both in color and black ink only will help your students achieve the flexibility of thinking they need to become fluent.
You can grab it by clicking the picture below.
OR grab each monthly pack separately, just click on the picture to see: