# Memorizing math facts

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I'm tutoring a younger student who has had trouble memorizing math facts and is still counting on her fingers. Her mom would love it if she could memorize them much better. I'm considering having her work with number bonds and work on addition and subtraction together. Would you all share your favorite ideas to work on those? Here's what I've come up with thus far. I would have her work on one bond (such as 14) all week long, but I want to switch things up and not do the same things each week. She enjoys games and art type activities, and she takes dance.

make a bead braceletsand write out all the possible bonds

do graph paper grids of all the possible bonds

make a rainbow and write all the bonds in clouds

find all the bonds for that number in a set of dominoes

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I would first want to work more basic skills for number sense given she's using fingers. I am guessing since I'm not sure where she is skill wise or how old. Can she subitize 1-6 with a die and 1-10 with a ten frame? Can she add and subtract one from any number 1-20 by counting up and down without fingers? What about two?

I would probably try to transition from fingers to counters in a ten frame and/or c rods to continue manipulative (concrete) while decreasing finger usage.

Then work five and ten number bonds. Then addition doubles memorization (might be a song for this), and doubles plus or minus one. Then whatever is left.

I realize this doesn't really answer your question about fun activities but you have some good ideas for number bonds. And I'm sure others will have good ideas too. I would say there's lots to do with decks of cards and c rods.

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Just for fun, there are the Number blocks and other math fact videos to music and without music on Youtube.

My Dd response well to audio/visual.

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Addition or subtraction "war" with cards - regular cards or just cards numbered 1-10 - is good for math facts.

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Games from the free ronit bird ebooks: card games and dice & dominoes are free iirc.

Lots of c rod work with ideas from education unboxed: what's in the box, having a party, building walls, etc

Also "go to the dump" (like old maid, but pick a target number) and "some went hiding" where you have x number of objects and then snatch a few away while the child closes her eyes. Then the child should tell you how many are "hiding." Let her have a turn doing the hiding too.

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xtramath.com has been a hit here. :)

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I hate to be the boring one, but I really like flash cards.

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I hate to be the boring one, but I really like flash cards.

We like flash cards over here, too. I especially like CLE's addition and subtraction flashcards with the 1st and 2nd grade schedule. I wish I could find some multiplication and division flashcards that have a schedule.

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I really love "Addition Facts that Stick" and "Subtraction Facts that Stick" for this.  It has brief tactile lessons to review number/concept sense, and then uses games which are repeated throughout the week after each lesson to help with memorizing the math facts.

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I'm not sure if you have the endurance to walk the Cuisenaire rods path (or not), but I found it to be a most outstanding way of visually representing number-bond like values in a fashion that's impossible to count.

I'd also work on re-grouping skills (to Tens) in cases where you are going to work on hypotheticals such as "pairs that make 14."

My personal belief is that it is better to advance numeracy through these scalable methods rather than trying to rely on unscalable memory work as a starting point.

Bill

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What Spycar said.  C-rods.  Worth their weight in gold!  You can use the Education Unboxed vidoes for ideas on working with them.

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Could I ask another question? I've really only tutored college and high school math, so I've basically done early math with only my own kids. They understood math conceptually almost intuitively.

The student can add 1 with no problem at all. When I played the same game adding 2, she used her fingers. When she added a long list of numbers, she used her fingers and counted up for the whole entire list. She knew to regroup and how to do it. She did a multi-step word problem with addition and subtraction very quickly but did use her fingers for the addition part.

Her mom told me she could never do math on a number line. It really seemed to confuse her. I'm wondering if it's possibly just how it was taught. I've wondered about making a clothespin number line on a hanger where she could actually move the pins instead of just jumping back and forth.

She's great with money. I have a game that you earn money for chores, and you get the money from the bank and are restricted on which coins to use. That restriction varies with each turn. She loved it!

Do these situations indicate any learning problem that I should be aware of, or is it simply that she hasn't memorized facts well enough to recall them?

She seems very eager to learn and likes math much more than she has thought in the past. We're really having fun together, so I am thankful that we are getting along. I pray I can be a real help to her.

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My son with multiple learning disabilities was able to learn facts within ten, but despite lots of work on number bonds, drills, cuisinaire rods, etc. he still gave me a blank look when I asked a problem like 9+7. So we changed direction and had him practice using counters on number tracks with Slavonic shading, then progressed to visualizing the same process, then went to mentally making the ten without visualizing the tracks, and now he can figure out his facts quickly enough that I don't worry about memorization. Maybe they will become automatic with time, maybe not. I'm not sweating it now, though.

We also really enjoy the Ronit Bird games in her free e-books. Century and matador are big hits here, as is the game whose name I can't recall in which the player rolls a die four times and chooses tens or ones for each roll to get as close to 100 as possible without going over. It reminds me of the Price is Right. :)

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The student can add 1 with no problem at all. When I played the same game adding 2, she used her fingers. When she added a long list of numbers, she used her fingers and counted up for the whole entire list. She knew to regroup and how to do it. She did a multi-step word problem with addition and subtraction very quickly but did use her fingers for the addition part.

If you set up the rods as stair steps (one next to two, two next to three, etc.) then you can show her visually how she is adding one and it makes the next number up. She knows this.

Then, using a "two" rod, show her that she is just skipping a number when she adds two. This stairstep thing was THE math fact breakthrough for one of my children.

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What Spycar said. C-rods. Worth their weight in gold! You can use the Education Unboxed vidoes for ideas on working with them.

Thanks for posting this. My son and I have been watching them and adding it to our math rotation. He eats it up. Between that and challenging word problems, math is hands-down his favorite. He had fun with the tower and wall videos. He is in 2nd so he is a little above those, math-skill wise, but they were good to bring him back into all things cuisinare. We use them randomly as needed but have a tendency to just do the next worksheet page in Singapore. If I could go back, I would do much more of this with all of my older kids.

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