Need another way to build math fact fluency? Try these fun printable math games – they’re free!
Let’s talk about basic math facts, shall we?
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
All math teachers agree that their learners need to develop fluency with these facts.
What is math facts fluency?
It’s the quick and effortless recall of math facts. If kids have to think for a minute before telling you that 5 x 6 = 30, they don’t have math facts fluency.
Why do kids need math facts fluency?
Here are the two most important reasons.
- When kids know their facts automatically, they can do math more quickly. This becomes especially important in the higher grades.
- When kids have fluency with math facts, their brains are freed up to do more complex tasks – such as mental math and problem solving.
Should I start with flash cards?
While many people begin with this step, I don’t encourage it. Instead, we need to focus first on an understanding of the math behind the facts.
Kids need to explore addition as combining or adding to.
Kids need to understand subtraction as separating or taking away.
They need to see that multiplication is repeated addition of a number, and that division is dividing a number into equal parts or groups.
If not flash cards … what?
- I love beginning with a good book. (For example, check out this list of books that’s great for introducing multiplication.)
- Continue with manipulatives. Even older kids who are starting to learn multiplication and division need to explore basic operations using small pieces before committing facts to memory. Some of my favorite manipulatives are teddy bear counters, 2-color counters, and unifix cubes. Small budget? Use pennies!
- Reinforce the concept in a variety of ways. In addition to manipulatives, try number lines, ten frames, and more. Pinterest is your friend. Go search for some fun ideas! I even did some searching for you, and I found these goodies:
Build first grade math skills with legos with these tips from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls. Not So Wimpy Teacher has some hands-ways to practice multiplication. Also see Math Geek Mama’s round-up of ways to teach multiplication using arrays.
- Vary your instruction. Do whole class lessons, work with small groups, and provide opportunities for individual practice.
Should I ever use flash cards?
Of course! In fact, I recommend it – after students have an understanding of the math behind the facts and need to commit them to memory. (And 15 in a Row is a fantastic game to play with flash cards!)
But don’t make flash cards your only method for building math fact fluency. Try my free printable games!
Free games for building math fact fluency
At the end of this post, you’ll get a math games pdf with 40 printable games for practicing basic facts. As you can see in the above image, each game features a string of facts along the border.
In the center of each game is a Bingo board.
Kids move around the board with a die, name the fact they land on, and find its answer on the Bingo board. They can color or dot it (we like Do-a-Dot markers, but they can be pretty messy – I don’t recommend them for a classroom of kids).
When they have five in a row, they’re done!
These games are perfect for the classroom, homeschool, or after-school practice at home.
I hope your learners enjoy them!