Gone are the days of simply telling kiddos to memorize their multiplication facts. In order for students to master their facts and be fluent in them, they need to go through three phases. If they skip any of these phases they will not be effective nor efficient. These phases are modeling the facts (or making them concrete), using strategies with to make connections with their already known facts, and then basic practice. I talk more specifically about these three phases in my post, The Three Phases of Fact Fluency. This post will focus on activities to help with the third phase, practicing fact fluency.
Activities for Practicing Fact Fluency
There are lots of different ways students can be practicing fact fluency. As mentioned before, long gone are the drills, flashcards, and memorization techniques. By time students arrive in this phase- phase 3- they should have most of their facts committed to memory and are near mastery. This stage is simply about reinforcement.
1.) Dice games – Students can work independently or in pairs. They can roll dice and multiply the two numbers together to practice their basic facts. If playing together, just have them place a tally mark each time they are correct. The student with the most tally marks after a set time wins.
2.) Card games – Most classrooms have played multiplication top-it or war or some variation of it. Have students flip over one card at the same time and multiply the numbers. They both state the product and whoever says it correctly first, gets both cards. This continues until students run out of cards. Whoever has the most cards wins.
3.) Hedbanz – Using the headband from the game (aff. link) “hedbanz” (or something similar) have a student draw two number cards (used from a deck of cards – just remove face cards and aces) and place them on their head without looking at them. Another student/partner will tell the product of those two numbers. The student wearing the cards has to try to determine the factors on his head.
4.) Puzzlers – Students are given a card and have to find different multiplication equations that equal a set number. You can read more about this in my blog post, Increasing Critical Thinking Skills in Math.
5.) Math Wheels – When I was student teaching, we always used a cardboard cut out of a circle and clothespins for practicing fact fluency. I have since modified it a bit – but there’s no rule you don’t have to make it yourself. You simply write the math facts in different fractions around the circle and the product on the different clothespins. Students match them up. I like to use arrays too. You can find my Multiplication Math Wheels here.
6.) Games – There are lots of great games out there, especially on Teachers Pay Teachers. I’m also always creating more and more games for my kiddos. I have Multiplication Fixation (which is like Trivia Crack), Multiplication Tic-Tac-Toe, and my Multiplication Shortcuts which is jam-packed full of games for each number, just to name a few.
7.) Interactive Worksheets – I like to pull out the worksheets that are interactive, like the color-by-number activities, Start2Finish activities, or the cut and paste activities where students have to solve the problem and paste the answer on top of it to reveal a mystery image. These are a fun and interactive way to practice fact fluency.
8.) Play Ball – Who doesn’t love tossing around a beach ball? Grab a beach ball from your local dollar store and write some multiplication problems on it. Then have students toss it around and when they catch it, the problem closest to their thumb is the one they have to recite and state the answer to. You could also just purchase one here found on Amazon (aff. link).
9.) Learning Wrap-Ups – You may have seen these before. These are an engaging way to practice learning your basic facts individually. Students wrap the string from a number on the left (times the number in the middle of the key) to the answer on the right. Since it’s self-checking, they just flip the key over to see if they got it correct. You can check these out (aff. link) on Amazon here.
10.) Array Creation – Create arrays using materials in your classroom. These can be goldfish crackers, raisins, or even have students create them using stickers. Students can even draw them! This is a great way to reinforce the meaning behind multiplication and how to arrive at the answer.
These are just a quick list of ten different activities you could do to help your students practice fact fluency once they have reached the third stage. There are sooooooo many more I could list. I didn’t even get to online games, songs, or go in-depth with some of these categories.
I’ll make sure I write another post in the future regarding more activities you can do to increase your students’ fact fluency in multiplication!
Until then, enjoy this freebie below and definitely check into some of the activities above!