Basic math facts are to math what the alphabet is to reading. A student should know that 4+5=9 as quickly as they can recognize the sound for the letter “A.” Unfortunately, many students are not comfortable with all of their basic math facts. Often, a lot of emphasis is put on learning multiplication facts, and sometimes even addition facts. Subtraction and division facts seem to be glossed over in school, more often than not.
There really is no reason for students to not know their subtraction and division facts if they are familiar with their addition and subtraction facts. After all, when it comes to addition and subtraction, or multiplication and division, the facts really are just two sides of the same coin. The related facts in addition and subtraction, and in multiplication and division, are called fact families.
For example, an addition and subtraction fact family is 2, 3, 5. The associated facts are:
A multiplication and division fact family is 3, 5, 15. The associate facts are:
Students often see the usefulness of learning fact families when they see that if they learn one fact (the fact family), they learn 4 (the related basic facts).
There are many fun activities teachers and parents can use to teach fact families.
- Mathwire.com features Fact Family Math Mats
- The blog Teaching in the Inner City discusses using triangles to teach fact families.
- Triangle flash cards are available at most parent teacher aid stores. In Nashville, you can find them at the Parent-Teacher Store in Green Hills for $8.99 each for addition/subtraction and multiplication/division.
- Proteacher.net has a lot of fun ideas as well.