Math Facts

Mastering the Games and secret codes help kids learn math skills.

Math Fact Pairs

Encourage your students to pair up math facts and their answers with this fun floor game. To make the game: Trace a pair of shoes for your pattern, duplicate on thick paper, and then cut out. On each left shoe print, record a math fact, for example 2 + 8. On the right shoe print, record the answer, i.e. 10. To play, students lay all the right shoe prints on the floor, and then pair the equations with their answers. It is an active way to practice quick math skills — Adapted from an idea by Sr. Samuella, O.P., Holy Rosary School, Duluth, MN

Beat the Calculator

Propose a calculator race! Read to your class the legend of John Henry, the folk hero who put his muscle up against the might of the steam engine. Tell them you have a modern challenge. In pairs, students go head-to-head, one with a calculator, and the other with his or her wits and grit! You call out the problem, and they race to compute the answer. The idea is not to encourage your students to be anti-technology, but to foster pride in themselves and what they know.

Math Secret Codes

Offer your students these "secret codes" for mastering simple addition problems.

  • "Add one, Next one." Adding one to a number pushes it up to the next, as in 3 + 1 = 4, 4 + 1 = 5.
  • "Two More, Even or Odd the Score." If you begin with an even number, you get the next even number; if you start with an odd number... e.g., 4 + 2 = 6, or 7 + 2 = 9.
  • "Double Plus One, Problem's Half Done." Once you know your doubles it's a breeze. Then you can take 3 + 4 and see "Well, it's just two 3s and one more, so that's 7!"
  • "Ten's My Friend." If you know 8 + 2 = 10, 8 + 4 is easy, think "10 plus 2, that's 12."
  • "Same Thing Coming and Going." This keeps students from being thrown off by reversals: 7 + 2 is the same as 2 + 7.
Make a Secret Code book. On each page, ask students to write the rule, explain it in their own words, and give examples. —Bob Krech, Dutch Neck School, Princeton Junction, NJ