Math Fluency!

I am working hard this year to get my little sweeties fluent in addition and subtraction facts to five.  I also want them to be VERY comfortable with the number pairs that make ten.  Here are two simple  activities that I think have helped...

Sorting is such a powerful activity in every subject!  First, we made unifix cube trains with 10 cubes.  I told students they could use two colors.  Some of the students realized that you could also just use 10 of one color and zero of the other. (Clever little darlings who wanted to finish quickly!)  Then, I had them record it on a paper by coloring and writing the two numbers used.  Some students just naturally wrote an equation, but it was not required.  After that, I had them do it again with different numbers.

The next day, we sorted every recording sheet onto the chart (above).   It went really well and reinforced all those facts.  I think next time I would do it with category cards that are bright and more appealing rather than the boring chart.  But, of course busy teachers don't have lots of free time, so the boring chart served its purpose.  If I get a bug up my bonnet and decide to make the category cards, I will post them here as a freebie....

BTW, I did both of those lessons as small group math centers.

I have noticed a difference in fluency with these facts since we did this.  In fact, I gave the sweeties a word problem the following week to solve in groups that was 10 divided by 2 (10 cookies for 2 kids).  I was a bit surprised when several kids did it with mental math before we even got to tables to work on it.  As the kids were discussing the problem and recording their thinking at tables, it came out that knowing 5+5 = 10 made it easy to solve this problem.  That, and it seems like whenever we are figuring out how many cookies kids get they are super motivated.  Boy, did that make me HAPPY!!!

This is the other easy (for teacher) way I have been practicing addition and subtraction daily with my sweeties.  I started doing this when we got to 100 on the calendar and students were fluent in counting by 10s and 5s.  Each day there are different equations with different numbers missing.  Two students have to guess what goes in the blank spaces.  Some days we have good discussions when others disagree and students talk about how they solved it.  It is great to hear them explain their thinking.  This has also been a good way to reinforce that equations can go in different directions, the meaning of the = sign, and that sometimes you have to solve for the addend and not the sum.   The numbers and symbols are on card stock, and are laminated with magnets glued to the back.  It is quick and easy to change them each day.  I think this short activity (2-5 minutes) is a great use of instructional time and gets so many things accomplished at once.  I try to do this each day as a part of my calendar routine.

Hope this helps you and gives you ideas to use with your kiddos!  Please comment if you have any other ideas or variations on the theme to pass on.  Share the LOVE!

Happy Teaching!

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