Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Basic Math Facts Made Easy!

I've been struggling as a parent with my 5th grade daughter and my 3rd grade son's math curriculum. They follow the Envisions program at their school. I like how the Envision program boosts the mental math and estimation skills. I am wowed by some of the reasoning that my kids can do at their age so there are some really good things that can come from this program. However, I am finding that this program really lacks in building a foundation of learning the basic facts. By learning, I don't just mean understanding the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, the program is fine in that regard, what I mean is getting the kids to "know"="memorize" their basic facts. I am a firm believer that when you start working with longer addition/subtraction and moving into long regrouping problems the kids should know their basic facts by memory. If the child is stuck counting on their fingers a simple 3+2 they are at a huge deficit when they have the problem 423+92 in front of them. The same goes with the larger multiplication/division problems. A student is only asking for frustration on 423÷9 if they don't know 9x4.

I am seeing these struggles with both my 3rd grader in his larger addition and subtraction work and my 5th grader with her larger multiplication and division work. Both of these kids have never had issues in math before and have always felt it was their most liked and stronger subjects. My older 8th grade son never had these issues either. He did not use the Envisions program for the elementary grades and I feel he had a much stronger foundation therefore he avoided these issues. My daughter has strong addition fact skills and again she did not use this program in the K-1st grade where the addition fact foundation was built. She started using this program in 2-3rd grade so multiplication is where her deficit lies.

The school utilizes a skip counting chart and recommends finger counting to help the with the multiplication facts. This has not helped my daughter and in fact is causing her many careless errors in her work. I am not a fan of this method, so at home I am using the method that I used in my classroom. Breaking the factors down by 1-2 at a time and memorizing by the use of a multiplication table and timed test. We have been taking nightly timed tests working up to a 100 problem mixed (0-12) factor test. Her first testing of the mixed factors she was given 5 minutes and was allowed to use her multiplication chart. She completed 96/100 problems correctly. That was on October 16th. We've been doing it nightly (with the exception of Friday or Saturday) and last night, October 28th she completed that same test in only 3:30 seconds getting all 100 problems correct without the use of a multiplication chart! I am so proud of her! I am not surprised however, as I used this method for years in my classroom and I always saw great results in all ability levels. This method works! Check it out for yourself here:

You can find all the timed tests and multiplication charts available for FREE in my store as well.

Since I did not have a unit created for addition to help my 3rd grader I have spent the last few weeks creating one. His whole math foundation is being built with the Envision program so I need to intervene now! I am using the same philosophy of breaking the facts down by one addend at a time. He's been moving through at a quick rate and we are now doing 5:00 timed tests of 100 mixed addends of 0-10. He's still utilizing a number line and his fingers more than I would like but I know with nightly quizzing the rote memory will come. You can find the new addition unit here:

You can find all the timed tests available for FREE in my store as well.

My son is being introduced to the concept of multiplication in school right now so I am starting the above multiplication unit with him at home starting with the 0-1's so we don't find ourselves in the same situation his 5th grade sister is in.

If you are finding your child struggling with the basic facts please check out these resources. I know timed tests aren't the "in" thing to do anymore but they really do work. I've seen it with my own children, I've seen it with several years of students in my classroom, students of all different learning styles and abilities. It doesn't have to be a competition among the class, only a competition from day to day for the individual child. They just need to beat yesterday's score. That is the goal each day!

A Division Unit is also available if you are looking to work on the division facts.

No comments:

Post a Comment