# How needed is memorization of math facts??

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My soon to be 3rd grader has had the dardest time memorizing his math facts (addition/subraction). He can work addition problems with no problems, it's the subraction he has problems with. He will get the answer after about 3-15 seconds (depending on the difficulty). We have worked and worked and worked on memorization to no avail.

For addition he counts "dots" in his head. For subtraction, he counts backwards with the dots. I was looking at touch math and he worked quite a few sub. problems with it just fine.

I realize that multiplication is coming up this year and I know he will have to memorize his mult. facts. Just hoping it's easier:001_huh:.

Not sure what I'm looking for with this post. Help me out here!

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Life is easier if you memorize math facts. I'd try music tapes and math games. The more he uses them the faster he'll learn them.

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I'm not an expert, but I would guess that the "counting dots in his head thing" means he's a very visual/spatial thinker. I would think about how to give him better "mental math manipualtives" to work with. I think that is probably a gift to foster, not to squelch.

:lurk5:

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We are in the same boat right now. Addition and multiplication are ok, but subtraction is giving us some problems. I am really working with him on this because I noticed that as we are moving up in Singapore, the fact that he can't do the problems quickly is making math tough for him. Not nice for him that every time he figures out what the number sentence should be, it's a work to figure it out.

Anyhow, when we are doing oral drills, I tell him, for example, 12-7 and if he can't do it quick I say, 12-7 is the same as 7+what is 12 and that usually does the trick. I will say that we are doing Strayor Upton math right now, and the beginning chapter introduced us to column addition which has really been a boon for us.

For example, they tell you to start at the bottom and work up, then work down to recheck your answer. Thus,

7

3

2

--

Would be read as: 2 plus 3 is 5 plus 7 is 12. 7 plus 3 is 10 plus 2 is 12. We have been working on these orally for a couple of days and already I can see the difference.

Anyways, as usual, your mileage may vary.

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My soon to be 3rd grader has had the dardest time memorizing his math facts (addition/subraction). He can work addition problems with no problems, it's the subraction he has problems with. He will get the answer after about 3-15 seconds (depending on the difficulty). We have worked and worked and worked on memorization to no avail.

For addition he counts "dots" in his head. For subtraction, he counts backwards with the dots. I was looking at touch math and he worked quite a few sub. problems with it just fine.

I realize that multiplication is coming up this year and I know he will have to memorize his mult. facts. Just hoping it's easier:001_huh:.

Not sure what I'm looking for with this post. Help me out here!

From experience teaching the lower grade levels... it is not unusual to have your child struggle with learning the basic facts. Try to work to his strength... some kids learn best with paper and pencil drills, others singing to songs, some do the Touch Math, there are lots of computer games to help, and I've even seen some do rote memory while jump roping or bouncing a ball. See what works.

Yes, he needs to master the basics. If he cannot master +/- facts, then multiplication and division concepts will be difficult to understand or recall.

Do what you can. Keep persevering... it will kick in. Like brushing your teeth -- practice with him for 2-3 minutes at a time daily. Build it up to 5 minute drills if he can tolerate it. You're trying to jump start his short term memory into retaining it for long term memory by daily practice. Make it fun. Don't punish him. He may need a different way of learning?

Edited by tex-mex
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I had the same problem with my children and I happened to be in our local Ollies store one day a few weeks ago and they had the Hooked On Phonics Math Addition and Subtraction set marked down to just \$14.99.

I purchased it thinking that I had nothing to loose, my 8 year old and 6 year old could use the lively singing on the cd's and the accompanying workbook to learn their math facts and it worked great ! In only a few weeks they are mastering what I couldn't drill into their heads over the last 2 years. It was well worth the money, in fact, so much so that I would have willing paid twice that for the help it gave me. They also had tons of other Hooked on Phonics sets at Ollies at great prices and I also purchased the division set for \$14.99 too. Some of the other sets were Hooked On Phonics Handwriting, Spanish, Master Reading and the Kindergarten and First Grade programs.

If you have an Ollies Store close by you may want to check it out for the Hooked On Phonics Math sets. It really helped out my children, hopefully, you will have the same results.

Good Luck !

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My oldest had a rough time mastering her math facts. She's still slow, but she understands concepts pretty well. My dh is the same way, and he's a software engineer. My dd's the family artist. Her memory for other things is very good -- just not math facts.

If you're unsure about the need for memorizing, imagine your son slogging through algebra and geometry, and still counting dots in his head. Yes, it matters.

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my 8 year old and 6 year old could use the lively singing on the cd's

Oh, I need to look into this as my older responds really well to auditory info.

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OooooOooooh! It's sooooo needed!

I never properly learned my math facts. In fact, I've only this year learned how to add +8 without using my fingers. (I'm 36...)

It was so so so difficult in school not knowing my math facts.

My little guy is just starting, so I'm hoping to find a good way to help him memorize the facts. I'm hoping someone posts a really cool free computer game to help memorize addition and subtraction. (There's a cool multiplication one out there, but we're still with adding and subtracting around here.)

Do whatever it takes to help him learn those facts! It will be so helpful later.

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We use the RightStart math games, and ds is memorizing painlessly. So am I.

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Ok, now that my original question is answered, how do I help him? The flash cards are NOT working. I don't have much money (my hubby was laid-off in Apr.) and I need something painless because he'll be learning multiplication facts in the next couple of months (we'll be starting school mid-late July).

One more tid-bit, he can memorize scripture verses like no one's business...

Any suggestions??

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The RightStart method of breaking things into fives and making tens might be just the thing. It sounds like he's doing his own version of visualization and just needs some guidence. Then subtraction can just be thought of as missing numbers in addition, rather than counting backwards.

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We use the RightStart math games, and ds is memorizing painlessly. So am I.

We must have been posting at the same time. I will check this out!

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Count back is a good strategy when subtracting 1,2,or3

The other strategies normally learned in Grade 2 are:

Count up: used for subtracting 9,8,7,6,5,4

ex. 9-5 count up from 5: 6,7,8,9 that's 4, so the answer is 4

Use related addition facts and doubles:

ex. 9-5=4 because 5+4=9

ex. 8-4 =4 because 4+4 is 8

Doubles plus/minus one:

ex. 14-8 is 14-7=7 minus one more so 14-8 is 6

10 minus facts (assumes students knows the addition strategy of make a 10)):

11-8 is the same as 1+10-8 so first figure 10-8 is 2 then add 1

11-9 is 11-10 plus 1

All of these strategies will come into play when he is learning multiplication. If you're considering afterschooling, I'd recommend Singapore Math as it will get the double digit mental math down.

You can google all sorts of games like this:

or free curriculum:

http://www.eduplace.com/math/mw/practice/lp_2.html

but for us the best thing to do was Singapore Math because it taught the strategies painlessly.

Since you don't have a lot of time, I'd suggest showing him the strategies one at a time, then playing subtraction war with regular playing cards. Spend a week (or more if necessary) on each strategy: count up, doubles plus/minus one, and related fact. Each player throws down two cards and subtracts the numbers; the greatest difference wins. Aces are ones, Royalty are tens. When that's mastered, change the jacks to 11s, the queens to 12s, and the kings to 13s and practice using the strategies that have been mastered and add in 9s strategy then the 10 minus strategy. Next, make a deck with all the numbers 0-20 (we used old business cards) and continue mastering the strategies with the numbers above 13. For us, it took about 3 times a day, 5 minutes each time. You will have to prompt the strategy at times until it's mastered, but with that visual memory he has, it will go quickly.

Edited by lgm
clarity
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I think it is necessary.

A few things....

A couple years ago, I saw linked how to do the auditory memorization. Basically the child says it after/with the voice that is recorded? Anyone know what I'm talking about?

Write facts on paper THROUGH clay.

Make a sideways figure eight on a piece of paper. Kiddo traces the eight with his finger while saying the fact. Start at the upper left side and travel down and around. The middle juncture is +/- the first time and = the second time they get to it.

Quartermile Math online subscription (family subscription) is on sale at the homeschoolbuyersco-op.com This works similarly to a program my kids used and LOVED (EPGY's math facts program for those that care).

Games--cards, dominoes, whatever...make it fun and encourage quickness

Jumping Jacks work really well for facts. Clapping games (similar to the Miss Suzy ones we did as a kid) will work also.

ETA: I saw you say that he can do scripture. That is because the sentence makes sense to him. First, make sure he conceptually has addition and subtraction down (manipulatives will work for that). Then, make the facts a story. You can use any of the above along with this.

HTHs a little,

Edited by 2J5M9K
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I used to teach in the elem. grades and this is what I have done with my son. I began with a blank 10x10 grid with 0-9 marked down the side and across the top. I made an extra row and column from the one I found online to include a 10 row and column. I can find you on online if you aren't sure what I mean. As each set of strategies is completed the child colours in the corresponding rows.

Then begin with the 0 rows. Use manipulatives (and story mats if you want) to demonstrate the facts. Show that adding 0 to another number does not change it. When your son shows that he understands this concept, have him colour in the 0 row and the 0 column.

Then move on to plus 1, and then plus 2. They are small enough to count on. When he is comfortable with those have him colour in the 1 row and column and the 2 row and column.

Then we moved to the doubles. 0+0, 1+1, 2+2 etc. I had him create a doubles book creating pictures of things that would help him to remember.

For example 1+1 he drew a face with 2 eyes, 2+2 he drew a chair with 4 legs. 9+9 he drew an 18 wheeler truck. It really helped him to remember. He sometimes got stuck on 7+7. But he always knows 6+6 so helping him to understand that 7+7 would be the next even number from 12 (6+6), he got it. When he is comfortable with those colour in the corresponding squares on the grid.

Next move to doubles + 1. With numbers that are side by side on the number line such as 4+5, you can double the lowest number and add 1. Illustrate that 5 is the same thing as 4+1, so the problem can be broken down to 4+4+1. Once he remembers his doubles this one comes quite easily.

Then we went to the 10 row and column. It is pretty easy to pick up 10+3=13 etc. Colour those in when he gets them.

Next we moved to the 9 row and column. Have him use manipulatives to make a group of 9 things into a group of 10 things. How many did he have to add to it? One. When he is working on a problem like 9+5, have him use his manipulatives to demonstrate that he can take one item from the 5 group (leaving 4 items) and add it to the 9 group, making it a 10. Now it is easy to add 10 + 4.

Then move on to the 8 row. Do the same things as you did for the 9 facts but using 8 and borrowing 2 items. Colour those rows and columns in when he is comfortable with them.

Then we moved to the facts that add up to 10. Some of them are already coloured in. I found the best way for my son to pick up these facts, and he did it very quickly, was to use the card game Pyramid. But I removed the Jack, Queen and Kings. Instead of having to make 13 to remove the cards, he had to make 10. The next day he had excellent recall of the 10 facts.

After that there are I think 5 facts left that are left uncoloured. Those you can work on using similar strategies as above or creating a mneumonic device etc.

Using the grid seems to help as the children are able to colour in the facts they have learned and have a visual record of their accomplishments.

For the subtraction facts, we did the same thing. We used the grid and used similar strategies. We explored how 3+7=10 relates to 7+3=10 and also 10-3=7.

Lots of games such as Countdown and the card game War with lots of alterations (such as having to turn and add two cards each turn) really made it fun.

Hope some of this gives you some ideas. Good luck.

And I have to say I added with dots in my head all my life. Your son is the first person I've ever heard of that does it too! I am very visual and in elem. school it was a strategy I develped and I became very fast at it.

I was able to change my strategies along the way and did very well in math at the university level. I do often slide back into my old ways though :)

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Math facts are critical. As the student moves from acquiring the facts to using them, s/he is drastically challenged if s/he doesn't have them memorized.

It is usually helpful to approach the facts through many different senses, and many different ways of thinking.

Since your child has near mastery of addition, try triangular flash cards:

Do it yourself:

http://www.donnayoung.org/math/tricards.htm

http://www.reallygoodstuff.com/product_details.aspx?item_guid=9d8f31bb-4a3c-4f22-8be9-579e265396a0

I also like the multi-sensory approach of Wrap-Ups:

http://www.rainbowresource.com/product/Subtraction+Workbook+with+Wrap-Ups+and+CD/013156/1246020816-1184015

In the end, I find that there's really no substitute for old fashioned flash cards. I use them to test which facts are truly mastered, so I can better target those that have not. I make them myself out of card stock, but you can also buy them from the dollar store.

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It's very important.

But you have at least three years to work on it. :001_smile:

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.....One more tid-bit, he can memorize scripture verses like no one's business...

Any suggestions??

Because of his ability to memorize verses, I'd think Math the Fun Way would work well. The addition program has a supplement for subtraction. (multiplication has one for division). I believe they now have a CD version.

http://citycreek.com

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Another do it yourself option:

http://www.donnayoung.org/math/tricard2.htm

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how do I help him? The flash cards are NOT working. I don't have much money (my hubby was laid-off in Apr.) and I need something painless because he'll be learning multiplication facts in the next couple of months (we'll be starting school mid-late July).

One more tid-bit, he can memorize scripture verses like no one's business...

Any suggestions??

OK, now I'm practically a broken record - sorry.

I seriously recommend the free triangular flash cards. They really are different from traditional flash cards.

They cost you next to nothing. Given what you've said, they should work like a charm.

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Life is easier if you memorize math facts. I'd try music tapes and math games. The more he uses them the faster he'll learn them.

:iagree:

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I'll be the dissenting voice.. I really don't care about math facts.

My sister and I never mastered our facts. We're both engineers, and I studied in physics before switching.

It never really stopped either of us from getting good grades in math. We developped our own tricks to do calculations, and that was it. Concepts are way more important.

With years, some math facts will sink in, just from being used over and over again.

My son doesn't know his facts either, and is having very little problem with algebra (he's 11).

On the other hand, my daughter - the non-mathy person - *needs* her facts. Otherwise she has too many hurdles to conquer in each math problem. Being a visual-spatial learner, MUS was the only method that stuck . And it's working beautifully for her.

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I'll be the dissenting voice.. I really don't care about math facts.

My sister and I never mastered our facts. We're both engineers, and I studied in physics before switching.

It never really stopped either of us from getting good grades in math. We developped our own tricks to do calculations, and that was it. Concepts are way more important.

With years, some math facts will sink in, just from being used over and over again.

My son doesn't know his facts either, and is having very little problem with algebra (he's 11).

On the other hand, my daughter - the non-mathy person - *needs* her facts. Otherwise she has too many hurdles to conquer in each math problem. Being a visual-spatial learner, MUS was the only method that stuck . And it's working beautifully for her.

One of my sons was taught tricks at school for multiplication..it was more work remembering the bag of tricks than it was to learn what multiplication is, the commutative and distributive properties and the various strategies used to learn the number bonds and fact families. I wonder that the point of learning strategies and properties is getting lost in the rush to memorize the facts and be fast at computation.

The number bond game and the subtraction machine here may be useful to the OP: http://www.amblesideprimary.com/ambleweb/numeracy.htm

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I'm mixed as to whether it's absolutely necessary. My oldest was having the hardest time with it and trying to get him to memorize the facts was causing tears and frustration every day. I let up on him. He still counts up and down (addition and subtraction) in his head, but he does it REALLY fast! He did memorize multiplication and division quite easily for some reason. Trying to get him to memorize the facts was slowing him down. He finished algebra this year and it didn't really slow him at all.

That said, I am working hard with my 3rd grader to memorize his facts. He doesn't fight with me and it's quite painless for him, so we're doing it.

This is the way that worked for us. It's a combination of Saxon's approach and Singapore:

1. Memorize the 10s: 1 and 9, 2 and 8, 3 and 7, etc. I played store when we were in the car. "If I buy a piece of candy for 8 cents and give the lady a dime, how much change do I get?" Then, once you know those, you know the addition and subtraction facts - 10, 8, 2. 10-8=2, 10-2=8, 2+8=10, 8+2=10.

2. Memorize the doubles: 1+1, 2+2, etc. Again, once these are memorized, you know addition and subtraction. 8, 8, 16. 16-8=8, 8+8=16.

3. Memorize the doubles plus one; 8+9 (it's just one more than 8+8)

4. I think after this, there are only 16 facts left. I can't remember right now and I don't have my book nearby. But, we just memorize those.

One hint about subtraction. Instead of 16-8 being 16 taking away 8, think of it as, "What do I have to add to 8 to get 16?"

Good luck!!

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• 2 weeks later...

Thanks again everyone. I ordered the book (and just received in the mail) Two plus Two is not Five. We were going through something in the back of the book that goes through all of the math facts, from there the chart tells me what I need to work on with him out of the book. With doing that I realized that he knows most of his addition facts and he knows many of the lower number subtraction facts. He really hits a bump though with the 9-18 subtraction facts.

This book I just bought shows many different "tricks" to memorize the facts, but as one person said, it maybe easier just to memorize the actual facts, kwim? I will try working with him for a few min. daily on the subtraction facts he struggles with the most. I do have the math triangles that he had gotten from his 2nd grade public school teacher.

I have to admit that as a kid I never memorized my add/sub facts either. Now, as an adult, I have most memorized and for the ones I don't, I count up or down (depending).

Anyway, I will keep plugging away with it. Would it be a bad thing to start learning multiplication in the fall like I had planned and just practice the sub facts on the "side"?

Thanks again!

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Your son is in the 3rd grade? I have worked on math facts with my son EVERY DAY since the first grade. By the 3rd grade, he knew nothing. I had about decided he had a learning disability. Seriously. Go back and search my name and you can read all about it.

But now, finishing the 5th grade, I think he's got it. We worked on it EVERY DAY, and we'll continue to work on it every day for quite a while I'm sure. But he's got it. Happy! Happy!

Moral of the story: 3rd grade is too early to worry. Just keep working!

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Your son is in the 3rd grade? I have worked on math facts with my son EVERY DAY since the first grade. By the 3rd grade, he knew nothing. I had about decided he had a learning disability. Seriously. Go back and search my name and you can read all about it.

But now, finishing the 5th grade, I think he's got it. We worked on it EVERY DAY, and we'll continue to work on it every day for quite a while I'm sure. But he's got it. Happy! Happy!

Moral of the story: 3rd grade is too early to worry. Just keep working!

Thank you for that Cindy! The BTDT absolutely helps:001_smile:.

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This works for addition only, but I play the card game "War" with my son, but we each lay down 2 cards. He has to add up the 2 cards and whoever laid down the cards that add up to the most, keep those cards.

I don't have any clever ideas for subtraction and multiplications, but we're just working on addition for now.

He loves it. He totally doesn't realize that this is doing "math."

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I think math facts are critical to learn. I think that Rock N learn Addition and Subtraction is a good painless supplement to learning the facts. I found this at my local library:)

I also found it helpful to do 4-6 problems every days to re-inforce the addition/subtraction after the initial learning so to speak. His cyber school had many, many pages of problems assigned. Therefore, I found it was easier for my son to practice a small number of problems after the intial page or two of addition and subtraction. This helped to break it up and make it less tedious. I also emphasized the opposite addtion problem, fact families, number bonds, etc.

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Yes, it is important to memorize your math facts. It makes life so much easier.

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One thing I'd check is if he has a solid understanding of place value. When I started hs'ing dd at the beginning of Gr. 3 she was using little tick marks on a paper to add things up because she didn't have a solid understanding of place value. So if she had a question like 19+21, she would be adding up 19 marks plus 21 marks. It really went awry when she somehow left out a tick mark or lost count :blink: I went back to Rightstart Level B with her to lay a solid foundation. Once she had a better grasp on place value and started thinking about the different strategies Righstart taught, she would look at a question like 19+21 and just take 1 from the 21 and that would make the question 20+20 which she would quickly know equals 40.

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One of my sons was taught tricks at school for multiplication..it was more work remembering the bag of tricks than it was to learn what multiplication is, the commutative and distributive properties and the various strategies used to learn the number bonds and fact families.

Just for clarity:

The tricks my son was taught were all rote memory devices. A few involved finger counting, but the majority had nothing to do with math. For ex: the nines trick. :glare: Say you want to multiply 9x6. Hold both your hands up, fingers and thumbs extended. Assign the number 1 to the digit on the far left, 2 to the one next to it and so forth until your last digit is assigned the number 10. Put the digit that corresponds with number 6 down. Your answer is determined by looking at your hands. Count the digits to the left of the digit that you put down. That's the value of the tens place in your answer. Count the digits to the right of the digit you put down. That's the value of the ones place in your answer.

It was far easier, faster, and much more powerful mathematically to use Singapore Primary Math and actually teach the kid. Pre-algebra has gone very smoothly, since he knows his number bonds and realized that he's been using the properties for years. :001_smile:

I did not have to do any drill at all. SM's wkbk was enough to get the facts and strategies in memory for this kid's learning style. To meet the timed test demands at school in 6th grade, we played war, then learned how to write quickly on paper. (We afterschool).

Edited by lgm
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Not to run this post into the ground, but math facts are indeed very necessary for higher math. I'm sorry, but a college calc or trig without facts would be failure. Remember too, the colleges and universities are weeding out the lower level maths to make calc the first credit-counting math course. If they succeed in making this move, how would your child do without math facts? I can't imagine factoring without multiplication facts.

My children were very slow as many others have mentioned. I would not make it a time goal. I would make it a goal for accomplishment without time being a consideration. Eventually, with drills, they will remember them. The two-minute testings from Abeka were savers for us. We kept using them over and over for years.

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I'm starting to wonder if dd12 is *ever* going to have her times tables down. We've done it all - music, flashcards, games, artsy stuff (like a times table chart done in funky paint with glitter), verbal repetition, writing them out over & over, having charts stuck to every wall in the house, etc etc etc. They are just. not. sticking. :tongue_smilie: She is very slow with calculations because she has to check a chart or work it out with drawings on paper.

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I believe that it's important to memorize the facts. IMO once you have the basic facts memorized it makes the higher math much easier. My 9yo is slow at saying the facts orally (flashcards) but is quick at writing them down (she enjoys timed tests). She does the addition and multiplication but better than subtraction, we haven't started division yet.

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This works for addition only, but I play the card game "War" with my son, but we each lay down 2 cards. He has to add up the 2 cards and whoever laid down the cards that add up to the most, keep those cards.

I don't have any clever ideas for subtraction and multiplications, but we're just working on addition for now.

He loves it. He totally doesn't realize that this is doing "math."

War can also work for subtraction and multiplication. Division's tough if you're not into fractions yet.

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