I’m a strong believer that math fact fluency is the key to student success in the early grades. There are so many different ways to practice math fluency–printables, on the computer, partner games, small group work, worksheets, etc. Have you ever considered making math fact fluency a part of your weekly routine with whole class math games? Because the more fun you make fact fluency, the more students are willing to learn their math facts.
I practice math facts daily in my classroom because I know that it reduces student frustration, reduces a student’s cognitive load when learning more difficult concepts, and sets them up for success in later grades. But, I’m a big believer in not overwhelming students while teaching the importance of fact fluency. I do not like worksheets that drill facts or programs on the computer that are repetitive and dull for students.
So that got me thinking…how can I make math fact fluency more fun for my students?
I use several different strategies to help students learn math facts because one method is not going to work for everyone. I use Multiplication Fact Stories to build fluency, Printable Math Fact Centers, Digital Math Fact Centers, partner games, and more.
But what I’m going to talk about today is Whole Class Math Games! If you’ve never practiced math facts with your whole class, you’re missing out!
First, what are whole class math games?
Whole class math games are games that the entire class plays together at the same time. They are broken up into teams and are trying to reach a common goal with their peers.
In this whole class math game, students are divided into teams and are trying to fill up their baskets. The students walk around the room and look for the orange acorns that they need for their basket. The goal is for each team to fill up as many baskets as they can!
In this whole-class math activity, puzzle pieces are scattered everywhere with math facts on them. Students work together to put the puzzles together using their knowledge of math facts.
Here’s one more example. In this one, every student gets a hen (red). They have to go around the room and find the chicks that match with their hen based on the answers.
Why are whole class math fact games beneficial?
Each Friday, I pull out a new Whole Class Math Fact Game and explain what the challenge is. The students think we’re only playing a game and don’t realize just how much math fact practice we’re getting in. But they are actually increasing their math fact fluency, building your classroom community, and letting you informally assess student ability levels.
Increase Math Fact Fluency
Without knowing it, students are increasing their math fact fluency as they solve each problem. They are also learning new strategies and new ways to solve the problems since they are working with their peers. Sometimes, you as a teacher can say something 903293 times and it won’t stick. When they hear it explained by a peer, something clicks and they remember the knowledge moving forward. Giving students a chance to work with peers helps them learn from one another.
Build Classroom Community
Whole class math games build your classroom community because students are struggling through a problem together (in a fun way!). In my classroom, we only play on “Fun Fridays”. Students really look forward to this time together and everyone tends to get along during this time because their focus is the challenge at hand. I enjoy putting my students in different groups/pairings every week so that they get to know everyone in the classroom. This also gets them comfortable with new partners so when we’re doing more difficult work, they are already familiar with their peers and can focus on the content.
Assess Student Knowledge Through Observation
Whole class math games also let you as the teacher informally assess how students are doing with their math facts. When you watch students play whole class math games, you’re able to see who is taking on a leadership role and who is trying to fade into the background. You’re able to listen in on conversations within the group and guide the conversation where it needs to go. You can give suggestions on how each group member can help work towards the final solution and make sure that each child is included.
Students are also very perceptive. By having the teacher only facilitate during whole-class math games, the teacher is able to encourage student leaders to invite everyone to participate. The teacher can give ideas to student leaders on how to make sure everyone has a role in the group and is getting math fact fluency practice. This challenges your high-ability students to problem-solve how to make the group work more efficiently as a whole and challenges your low-ability students to practice their math facts while having fun at the same time.
You can find whole group math games here:
@thelifetimelearnerMy favorite way to practice math facts during back to school! ##teacher ##teachers ##teachersoftiktok ##teachersoftiktok2021 ##teachertiktok
You may also like to read about how to memorize multiplication facts without drills or how to practice math facts daily in centers.