To Master Basic Math Facts:  Strategize, Then Memorize
by Rinke and McAdam

Parent Toolkit Link

Nothing may be more feared in the minds of young children and their parents than learning the basic math facts. Just hearing the times tables takes many of us back to our own childhoods, staring at a blank page and trying to remember the dreaded 9 x 8 = 72. The good news is that our own children should not have to suffer the same fear. A substantial amount of mathematics education research shows that children do not master their math facts through memorization alone. Instead, true mastery comes from being equipped with quick and effective strategies for finding the solution. By using these strategies, children will always have the mental tools needed to find the correct answer and the confidence to use them.

With a strategy-based approach to the basic math facts, children use what they already know to figure out what they don’t know. Rather than racking their brains to remember the answer to a basic math fact, they can simply find a “helping” fact and use it as a jumping- off point. For example, let’s say that your child knows the common fact 5 x 5 = 25. She can then add one more 5 to figure out that 6 x 5 = 30. Think of this as the “one more than” strategy. There are many such strategies that parents can teach their children in order to equip them with the tools they need to master all of their math facts. As a parent, remember that as long as your child can figure out an answer quickly in her head (in about 3 seconds or less), she has mastered the fact and can use it in meaningful ways as part of her daily life.

Phases of Learning
  1.  Modeling Phase: Modeling and/or counting all or counting on to find the answer:  For example, using fingers to help keep track of their counts to solve 5+7=?
  2. Reasoning Phase: Deriving answers using reasoning strategies based on known facts, such a solving 5+7 by thinking, “Five plus five equals ten, and two more will make twelve.”
  3. Efficient Phase: Mastery or efficient production of answers.  For example, when asked, “What is 5 + 7?” a child might call out, “Twelve,” and explain, “I just knew it.”


Some Websites for Home                 Visit,  Edutopia, and Numerosity in iTunes for some app ideas


Addition and Multiplication



Elementary Basic Facts by Grade Level
Our goal has shifted from memorizing facts and procedures to increased understanding of the math strategies.  We will support student thinking by helping them see when certain strategies are applicable.  We begin with building the understanding of each strategy and then move to targeted practice while monitoring progress. The key is to help students see the possibilities and then help them chose the strategy that helps them get to the answer without counting.  Meaningful practice of strategies is a key part of developing fact fluency. 

Fact Fluency Rationale and Background Document

General Tools
+/- Strategy Progression
Observation Chart
Progress Chart


Addition and Subtraction within 20

Strategy Focus in K:

  1. County on 1
  2. Count back 1
  3. Add zero
  4. Subtract zero

Instructional Guide:  Count on and Count Back

Match Cards
Counting On Fact Cards
Commutative Property for Counting On and Back
Think Addition Subtraction Strategy Cards
Using Number Strips
Count On Bingo
Five in a Row
How Many are Hiding?
Ladybug Number Bonds
Monkeys in Bed Counting Back
Mouse Count On
Number Bond Pictures
Number Bonds Count On and Back
Number Bond Practice
Add and Subtract 1

Instructional Guide:  Add and Subtract Zero

Match Cards
Addition Fact Cards
Subtraction Fact Cards
Commutative Property for Zero
Think Addition Subtraction Strategy Cards
Scoop and Count
Add and Subtract Zero

Kindergarten General Activities
Fact Card Activities
Equal Sign First Activities


First Grade
Addition and Subtraction within 20

Strategy Focus in 1st:

  1. Doubles
  2. Halves
  3. Make ten
  4. Subtract from ten
  5. Count on 2
  6. Count back 2

Instructional Guide:  Add and Subtract 2

Match Cards
Digit Flash Cards
Dot Flash Cards
Missing Sum
Missing Addend
Missing Addend 2
Number Path
Ten Frame
Thinking Addition

Instructional Guide:  Doubles and Halves

Match Cards
Addition Fact Cards
Dot Cards
Double Domino
Subtraction Fact Cards
Think Addition

Instructional Guide:  Make and Take From 10

Match Cards
Circle Sums
Number Bonds
Missing Addend
Ten Frames
Think Addition Cards

Instructional Guide:  Differences of 1 and 2



Second Grade
Addition and Subtraction within 20

Strategy Focus in 2nd:

  1. Using doubles
  2. Using halves
  3. Using ten  to add and subtract

Third Grade
Multiplication and Division to 100

Strategy Focus in 3rd:

  1. Skip counting
  2. Doubles
  3. Powers of 10
  4. Properties
  5. Double double
  6. Add another set
  7. Double double double
Quarter 1
Foundations Facts
Multiplication   A  B  C
Division  A  B  C
Quarter 2
Building on Foundation Facts
Multiplication  A  B  C  3 Sets
Division  A  B  C  3 Sets
Quarter 3
Building on Foundation Facts
Multiplication A  B  C
Division A  B  C
Quarter 4