Fact Fluency Tips & Activities for Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade
February 14, 2022
The 3 following addition and subtraction ideas are easy-to-implement ways to help students increase their fact fluency in kindergarten, first grade, and second-grade classrooms!
Before I begin, I wanted to let you know you can watch or listen to all this information in video format below:
Now, naturally, in our K-2 classrooms, most of our teaching in math happens to be hands-on so our students can feel and see the different concepts and have a deep understanding of number sense, place value, addition, subtraction, etc. But we still need our students to be able to recall facts quickly so they can build upon their skills. This quick recall of facts is what we call fact fluency. There are a few easy ways we can practice this in our classrooms!
Fluency Tip #1: Implement Fluency Practice Often
Students will come into your classroom at all different levels, so you don’t want to wait until they have all mastered basic addition before teaching them how to increase their fact fluency! Instead, you want to expose them to these fact fluency practices often so they will be able to use them while learning new skills and master them more quickly. Two ways I like to do this is through a math warm-up and “number of the day!”
Before diving into your math block, all you have to do is write a few addition or subtraction equations on the board and have your students try to solve them on their own as they settle on the rug. This is a great way to get their minds ready for a math lesson, review old skills, and practice some quick math facts.
When students are ready, I ask a few students to share their answers and HOW they solved them. As the teacher, this will help you see which students can solve the equation just by looking at it (are they counting in their head? making 10? using doubles strategies?), who needs a little help counting on their fingers, and who may seem completely lost!
Another great math warm-up to practice fact fluency is Number of the Day! All you have to do is give your students a number and have them write down all the different ways they can make that number. Above I showed an example using the number 9. As students get more comfortable with this, they will more quickly be able to think of ways to make each number. As your numbers become larger, students will add place value into their ways to make a number too!
Fluency Tip #2: Practice Mental Math
Writing, drawing, and tactile manipulatives are great tools for learning addition and subtraction, so you don’t want to do too many mental math exercises until you’ve taught your students other strategies like making tens, counting on, and visualizing.
Once you’ve practiced these strategies with manipulatives, you can move on to mental math practice to increase their fact fluency. I love to do this with math read alouds!
Two of my favorite math read-alouds for addition are Each Orange Had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti, Jr. and Animals on Board by Stuart J. Murphy
You can see each book individually below: the books out here:
Each Orange had 8 Slices: https://amzn.to/2ZnlrUl
Animals on Board: https://amzn.to/3GeCGYu
Another great way to practice mental math in your classroom is through Number Talks. I made an entire four-part video series about number talks surrounding number sense that you can see here>>> NUMBER TALKS IN THE CLASSROOM. When students have a strong understanding of number sense, they will be able to think flexibly about numbers and easily group them together or break them apart in their heads.
Low Stakes Drills are another great mental math exercise that you can use to increase your students’ fact fluency. Just print out an addition sheet (there are tons online), set a timer for one minute, and see how many equations your students can solve in their head without using their fingers, drawing, manipulatives, etc.
With low-stakes drills, you want to remind your students that these are just quick, fun exercises. You don’t want them to compare how many they were able to solve with other students in the class – they should just use these drills to test their fact fluency and challenge themselves to solve more next time.
Fluency Tip #3: Games, Games, Games!
If you follow me, you know how much I love incorporating games into the classroom because they are such high-engagement ways to review skills! Students will be playing these games without necessarily even knowing they are practicing fact fluency!
I have a bunch of print & play games that cover all the different skills taught in Kindergarten and 1st-grade classrooms – you can check them out here:
For example, one of my favorite games in this bundle is Number Crash:
To play, students will take turns rolling 2-3 number dice (there are 2 separate boards for 2 and 3 addends), finding the sum, and moving their game piece that many spaces on the board. If the students land on the same space, they crash and both players have to go back to start. Whoever reaches the end of the game board and rolls a sum of 10 first wins!
Roll, Move, and Color is a game from my Kindergarten print & play bundle:
In this game, students will start on different sides of the spiral game board. They will roll the dice, move that many spaces, and solve the equation on their spot as fast as they can. Once they solve the addition problem, they will color in the sum on their 1-5 sheet. Whoever has all numbers 1-5 colored in on their column first wins the game!
These are just two small examples from my first grade and kinder print and play bundle! There are SO many more games in those bundle. Just click the images above to check each one out.
Another math game that I love to play with students (or your kids at home) is Zingo! Zingo is basically Number Bingo, but it involves both number sense and addition. It is a very fun game and a great way to practice fact fluency in an engaging & entertaining way!
There are a bunch of easy ideas to implement to increase your students’ fact fluency! If you have other fun strategies and activities to help your students with fact fluency, let me know what they are in the comments!
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