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3 Tips to Build Math Fact Fluency

3 Tips to Build Math Fact Fluency

math fact fluency
First, let’s talk about WHY we need to help our students become fluent in basic math facts.  

“Math facts fluency leads to higher order mathematics.  Through automaticity students free up their working memory and can devoted it to problems solving and learning new concepts and skills (Geary, 1994).

Quite simply, a lack of fluency in basic math facts will significantly hinder a child’s subsequent progress in problem-solving, algebra, and higher order math concepts.  Math fact fluency not only affects our students’ future success in math, but also in science and geography.
For these, and probably a zillion more, the Common Core Standards 
require us to teach Math Fact Fluency:
addition and subtraction facts

math fact fluency

addition and subtraction facts

addition and subtraction facts
So we know the WHY – let’s talk about the HOW!  
Here are 3 Tips to make math fact fluency teaching and practice more effective.
addition and subtraction facts
Addition and Subtraction Facts
I had a huge ‘aha’ moment years ago, when I had moved from teaching Kinders for years to 2nd grade. The students were taking a timed math facts test so I could assess their level of mastery, and I thought I should know how long it would take me to complete the page of math facts.  So I took it.  I was amazed at how I was thinking as I was answering – I did not have many of the facts memorized, but I was using the mental math strategies to derive the answers!  WOW!  I was super fast, did not have them memorized, but I understood the relationships so I knew the answer almost ‘automatically’!  
And of course, research bears this out – students who are taught mental math strategies are quicker in computing than students who are taught to ‘memorize it’. 
Addition and Subtraction Facts

“To build math fact fluency, the most effective strategy is to give students 10-15 minutes per day to practice using what are called derived facts strategies (DFS).  Essentially, DSF’s are using facts you know to solve facts you don’t know.”  Sam Strother, Associate Director Developing Mathematical Thinking Institute.

I love that term- Derived Facts Strategies because it describes the process – we derive from what we know to a new fact.  We, as teachers MUST make time in our already packed day to provide this 10-15 minutes practice per day.  Gone are the days when we can tell the parents to teach it at home.  Most parents don’t have the time, or the mathematical understanding to teach using Mental Math Strategies – or DSF.
Addition and Subtraction Facts
We know from experience and research that students learn best when they feel safe and are engaged in a fun activity – enter math games, student goal setting, and cooperative learning activities!

 I have developed activities that are:
   1) based on the Mental Math Strategies
   2) can be done in 10-15 minutes per day
   3) are super engaging!

And……. NO PAPERS TO GRADE ….. ANY DAY!  Can I hear a ‘Hip, Hip, Hooray!’ ?

I used these super cute and engaging Super Hero graphics in all these Addition and Subtraction Fluency Resources.  I tell the kids that mental math strategies are their super powers in math!

Math Fact Fluency
Addition and Subtraction Facts
Addition and Subtraction Facts
I included a small strategy poster for each game,
and put the directions on the other side.
Addition and Subtraction Facts
Addition and Subtraction Facts
Primary Math Fact Automaticacy
Addition and Subtraction Facts
Addition and Subtraction Facts
I have been using these engaging activities in my classroom for years and I know from experience that my students got ‘Fast as a Flash’ with addition and subtraction math facts.
I hope I have inspired you with my 3 tips!
  1. Teach the Mental Math Strategies
  2. Practice 10-15 15 minutes each day
  3. Use Engaging Activities

I have a few free games for you that will help you implement all 3 tips:  these games use the mental math strategies, are a great way to practice, and are super engaging!


Addition and Subtraction Facts
mprove math fact fluency among your students with these three tips. Find links to fun games and activities your elementary students are sure to enjoy, plus math strategy posters to serve as reminders and a few free games! {freebie, 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade} #teacher #teacherspayteachers #homeschool #students #additionfacts
Peggy Means

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  • Laura Schachter September 21, 2014 at 9:49 am

    This was an amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • Peggy Means September 21, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Thank you, Laura, that is very encouraging!

  • Jill Myers February 24, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Hello, I am trying to access the 11 games you listed to help develop math fact fluency, but when I click on the picture it takes me to writing tips instead. Can you ehlp me find the math games please? Thank you for sharing.

  • Peggy Means February 25, 2015 at 12:52 am

    Hi, Jill, I am so sorry the link is not taking you directly to the games!
    Here is the link:
    I now have subtraction games, posters, and partner activities available.

  • Aditya Patel March 20, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Great post. Worthy information for sure and a good beneficial one for readers.
    Buy Instagram likes and followers

  • Peggy Means April 27, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Thank you, Aditya! I am delighted to hear that this was helpful!

  • JB August 16, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Any chance you will make a multiplication/division one?

  • Peggy Means August 16, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Hi JB, Thank you for asking – I worked an multiplication/division over the summer! I think you will like them!

    Multiplication/Division Resources

    Happy Teaching!

  • Mrs. Bartel October 13, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    What a great post! And your activities are amazing. Just what my first graders need.

  • Peggy Means November 13, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    I am so delighted to hear that these activities are helpful to your firsties!

    Keep Flourishing!

  • Leave a Reply


    My name is Peggy Means. I am a child of God and a retired elementary teacher. I loved teaching and creating engaging resources for my students. Now, I love sharing my resources and ideas with busy teachers around the world.

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