# {** UPDATED** 6/14 with a question about Calculadders in #24.} Do you drill math facts to the young elementary student?

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my son is 5.5 and doing kindergarten work this year. I've been thinking out next year (as well as thinking out the rest of our winter and spring terms this year) and it suddenly struck me that perhaps I should drill the basic addition and subtraction equations to get him to memorize them. Right now he's working through the MUS Primer. it is all fine, we just do it for kicks/an intro...Miquon is where we are headed once we are finished the portions of this book that I'm choosing to teach. He totally *gets* the concepts of addition and subtraction. He can do simple addition equations (not carrying numbers yet). When we play games he understands the concept of "x less y = z". (We've not touched upon multiplication or division and I'm not going there yet.) He can do some addition in his head, without counting objects. Would it be fruitful to actually drill him on the simple equations so he knows them cold?

He also knows skip counting by 2s, 3s (mostly), 5s, 7s and 8s (7 and 8 b/c they are catchy songs on the CC CD ).

Do you drill math facts/equations in early elem? If so, what does it look like?

TIA.

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Yes, of course. That's the best time to do the drills. :-) We've used Calculadders and Learning Wrap-ups. If we were hsing again, I'd be using R&S's arithmetics, where the drill is built into the lessons and seatwork.

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I really focus on pairs that make ten. Anything else, I allow the use of c rods. After pulling out the light green and red a hundred times, my oldest two seemed to just know that 3 and 2 made 5.

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Well, I don't call them drills so much as we play lots of games. I also focused on pairs that make 10 and 20.

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My dd is also 5.5 and knows how to add/subtract to 20 using her fingers.

She also knows the result of 1+1 and 2+2. Yet I do not think she knows the general fact that the sum

of 2 numbers is always the same. This I see because I ask her to do 5+3 and after getting the answer

I talk to her about some other things (no math) and in less than a minute I ask

her the same question. She proceeds again to show her fingers and count.

So, no, I am not doing any drill until she figures that the sum of 2 numbers is always the same.

I see no reason to hurry anyway, what difference does it make if she knows the addition

facts by the age of 5.5 or 6.5?

But I do intend to drill at some point in time, preferably before the age of 7. I think the addition facts

are very important and should be known 100%, 100% of the time (after they are drilled).

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I haven't had to drill plus/minus facts. My oldest picked them up just by doing problems that used them (we were using MM, and even doing only half the problems and skipping whole chapters, it was still plenty). My middle son used C-rods with Singapore, and he's almost done with 1A and knows his facts within 10 pretty well, and he can use mental math to figure out anything above that. C-rods made all the difference in the world to him. I think he's picturing the rods in his head.

Now multiplication, I had to drill a little bit with DS1. He was 7 at the time, doing 4th grade MM. He needed a little extra help memorizing. So I printed out some 5 minute drills from math-drills.com on one table at a time (ie, all x3's). It was 100 problems, and I just said, "Do as many as you can in 5 minutes, and if you don't know one, skip it and move on to the next problem." That first time, we got done and he had done about 50 of the problems, skipping all the 3x6's and 3x8's. So I then went over the paper with him, putting a checkmark by the ones he got correct, and asking him the ones he skipped (I don't think he got any wrong). By the end of that correction, he knew 3x6 and 3x8. ;) I didn't have to drill the 3's table again. We did the same thing with 4's and 5's, and then I never had to drill again. He knew them. He's now in the middle of SM5B, having done all operations with decimals, fractions, etc. He knows his facts very well. No problems there.

DS2 hasn't done multiplication yet, so we may need to do some drill. We'll see. He's only K this year, so I am not worrying about it (we'll get a basic intro to multiplication this semester in 1B).

Some kids need more drill than others. I wouldn't worry about it at age 5 though. Just play some fun games and USE the facts.

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She also knows the result of 1+1 and 2+2. Yet I do not think she knows the general fact that the sum

of 2 numbers is always the same. This I see because I ask her to do 5+3 and after getting the answer

I talk to her about some other things (no math) and in less than a minute I ask

her the same question. She proceeds again to show her fingers and count.

Give the girl some C-rods! :D A child this age should have manipulatives if they need them, and C-rods are great for showing that 5+3 is the same as 3+5. It will be obvious.

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No, I don't do any drills with my Kers, and my 5th and 3rd graders haven't needed any drill yet. We use RightStart, and the practice they get working through the math materials has been enough for them to understand and memorize the math facts. The only math supplementing I've done is to add Singapore CWP when they begin RS Level C.

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Yes, but it was gentle. Lots of hands-on. I did use the flash cards that came with Saxon. We did it a year ahead, so Saxon 1 in K.

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If you want to work on math facts, but hate to do flashcards as much as I do, then you can have him do xtramath.com everyday. I love that I don't have to be part of it and my kids are learning their facts. I don't think 5.5 is too young, but it also isn't really necessary yet either, imo.

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Drill? No. Play with? Yes!

I try to discourage my children from relying on memory for almost anything in math. I want them to play with the numbers until they become so familiar that they can mentally manipulate them far beyond the range of "math facts", and I find that a focus on memory work actually makes this more difficult because once they think they "know" a math fact, they stop thinking about it.

Here are some of the "tricks" I use to encourage them to spend plenty of time in the "thinking about it" stage of math play:

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If you can do it with a VERY upbeat & positive attitude, and treat it like it's the most fun thing ever, then yes, flashcards at a young age, addition, subtraction, multiplication & division, as well as possibly the prime numbers up to 100 will enable you to skip YEARS of math, and make him much better at higher levels of math.

xtramath.com is very good too, once he is old enough to navigate it himself.

Rather than make it drill & kill I'd focus on learning 6 facts per day, broken into number groups (ie: start with one plus 0-5, the next day 1+6 through 12, etc. If that seems like too much you could just learn three facts per day.

When you've recited them each about 10 times, review the flashcards you've previously learned. Any that he can't answer immediately, without thinking, put into a review again pile. Go over those again, and when he knows them all instantly go over them all one more time to check.

ONLY do this if you can make it really fun and have a great attitude yourself. You don't want him to dread math.

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I didn't specifically drill addition and subtraction facts. DS6 can add and subtract mentally from practice as I always wanted him to be manipulating the numbers rather than simply memorizing the facts (for example, I preferred he could mentally think through 8+6 = 8 + 2+4 = 10 +4 = 14 and get so good at doing so that it happens quickly, even instantly like when you look at something as opposed to having it described in a linear process, rather than just memorize 8+6=14). We are only drilling now that he is into multiplication and division and I know he can mentally think through the addition and subtraction. I didn't even do much skip counting (just 10s) with him before he could do that. For multiplication he copies the tables and does verbal drill briefly each day. I also have some resources that put the facts to music.

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I did last year with my ds in first grade. He learned all his addition and subtraction facts. It has really helped this year also in math. He likes doing it too and one of his favorite games is math blaster online which helps with math facts.

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DS is 5.5. We just finished addition to 10, counting by 2, 5, and 10, and place value concepts. Tomorrow we start with subtraction to 10 facts. Luckily, our curriculum has all that built in :)

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I think it depends on the child. DD8 loves memorization, so yes, we did math drills. DS6 is great at multiplication or mental math, but absolutely loathes math drills in the traditional sense. He even hates wrap-ups and oral drills. I'm having him do MM addition/subtraction worksheets independently as he moves through SM, and hopefully the repetition will build his speed. Not having his facts down cold has slowed him down, but he is ready to move on conceptually in math and I don't want to bore him, so that is what works for now for this kid. Maybe in second or third grade he'll take to drills better.

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It is interesting to read this because my inclination has been to not do drills for this very reason. (In fact it is a huge pet peeve of my mathy dh...the ea of a 'drill'. At the same time, I see a benefit in becoming quick with simple equations once the child understands the concept..BuT I am super quick with mental math; my dh is not. I can do math in my head rapidly but he is the one with the true higher-level mathematical problem solving skills. Not that this is an either/or proposition by any means--we are probably two odd examples. I'm skilled with words and he is more math-y and more creative.)

Drill? No. Play with? Yes!

I try to discourage my children from relying on memory for almost anything in math. I want them to play with the numbers until they become so familiar that they can mentally manipulate them far beyond the range of "math facts", and I find that a focus on memory work actually makes this more difficult because once they think they "know" a math fact, they stop thinking about it.

Here are some of the "tricks" I use to encourage them to spend plenty of time in the "thinking about it" stage of math play:

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My iPod does me no favors. Should be 'idea of a drill.'

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My iPod does me no favors. Should be 'idea of a drill.'

I thought it was some abrieviation I was not privy to. I grasped the idea though (pun intended).

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Give the girl some C-rods! :D A child this age should have manipulatives if they need them, and C-rods are great for showing that 5+3 is the same as 3+5. It will be obvious.

C-rods would indeed be useful to discover the commutative property of addition (5+3=3+5).

But what I was talking about was that my dd still does not realize that 5+3 is always 8. If you want

to give this a name I guess it would be called the existence of addition. I could certainly tell this fact

to my daughter, but I would prefer to wait and see if she figures it out by herself.

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C-rods would indeed be useful to discover the commutative property of addition (5+3=3+5).

But what I was talking about was that my dd still does not realize that 5+3 is always 8. If you want

to give this a name I guess it would be called the existence of addition. I could certainly tell this fact

to my daughter, but I would prefer to wait and see if she figures it out by herself.

Again, C-rods will demonstrate that. You start with learning what the rods are - red is the same as two white rods, so since white is 1, red is 2.

They are very powerful, especially for very young children.

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My kids really like the Mindware Addition Adventures, Subtraction Secrets, etc. series and also the Math Busters series for practicing math facts.

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I believe in the power of C-rods AND drill. :tongue_smilie: I think they complement one another quite nicely.

About 1/2 of my 6th-8th grade math students were not fluent in basic math operations. I think of it like the basics of a language. I can piece together a fairly complicated proper Spanish sentence, but I'm certainly not fluent. My lack of fluency prevents me from being able to automatically jump into a conversation without having to think about every piece. Sure, my students understood more advanced concepts but they were really crippled by their lack of immediate recall. I instituted daily Mad Minutes. Not all of them liked it, but all of them improved! My PS started them in 1st grade. I had a really energetic, sweet teacher named Mrs. Kidder of all things, and she made it seem like this great adventure! We never knew we were supposed to be bored, stunted, or "killed" by drilling our facts. The private school I attended for 2nd-4th used them as well. More fun! Then a 2-year break in 5th/6th, then my mom used them at my school for 7th-9th.

In elementary school we got stickers when we completed math fact sheets. That was usually all the motivation required for most kids.

In 3rd grade we got a park playdate with hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies once everyone memorized their multiplication facts.

I used a super-basic computer program where 5 problems dropped from the sky and you had to type the problem before it crashed into the buildings you were defending. So addictively fun!

There are lots of random games you can make up with flash cards.

I thought it was fun when my dad would just randomly drill my sister and me on our facts in the car.

My mom gave us candy bars for every Mad Minute we could finish correctly in the minute and took us out to lunch once we completed a set (6 or 8 maybe?)

My DH is brilliant mathematically but stubbornly balked at having to memorize his multiplication facts as a kid, and never did. He regrets this now. He spends hours on a complicated problem to discover that no matter how many times he looks at it, 8x9 doesn't equal 60-something. He understands the concept, and could find the right answer without difficulty if that was the whole problem, but when it's a tiny piece of the bigger picture it gets overlooked since he's "past that", IYKWIM? I had the same struggle with my jr. high students. Just knowing it intuitively because you've encountered it SO MANY TIMES is so helpful.

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• 1 year later...

Bumping this old thread because I'm coming back to this idea now.  My son is almost 7, working through his second Miquon book, and all is well except that I die a thousand deaths every time the child has to sit and think "now what IS 5+4?.....hmmmmm......" I want him to get it and get on with it.

I'm looking at calculadders.  Does anyone have any reservations about it as a program? It seems pretty straightforward and solid--basically, timed drills. I could make up my own drill work, but I'm not interested in investing my time into that right now.

Also, with the calculadders sheets--I don't want to wear him out with writing.  How feasible would it be to start the answers orally and then continue--or is this a bad idea?

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