How do you teach fact families?

Answered by Frank Schwing

When teaching fact families, I like to make it a hands-on and engaging activity for my students. One way I do this is by having them create their own fact family house.

To begin, I have students work in small groups and come up with a fact family. For example, they might choose the numbers 3, 4, and 7. They would then name their fact family by writing those numbers at the top of their paper.

Next, I have students draw a simple house shape on their paper. This will serve as the visual representation of their fact family. Inside the house, students will create three windows. Each window will represent one of the numbers in their fact family.

Once the house is drawn, I explain to students that in a fact family, the three numbers are related to each other. They can create number sentences using only those three numbers.

To act out the creation of number sentences, I have the group members take turns being the “mathematician.” The mathematician will choose two numbers from their fact family and combine them using addition or subtraction. They will then write the number sentence on their fact family house chart.

For example, in the group with the fact family 3, 4, and 7, the mathematician might choose to add 3 and 4 to get 7. They would then write the number sentence “3 + 4 = 7” on their chart.

We continue this process until all possible number sentences have been created using the numbers in their fact family. This allows students to explore different combinations and reinforce their understanding of addition and subtraction relationships within the fact family.

Throughout the activity, I circulate the room to provide support and guidance as needed. I also encourage students to explain their thinking and reasoning to their group members, fostering mathematical conversations and deeper understanding.

After about 10 minutes, I bring the class back together for a brief discussion. We share some of the number sentences that were created and discuss any patterns or observations that emerged. This helps to solidify their understanding of fact families and the relationships between numbers.

By making fact families a hands-on and interactive activity, students are able to actively engage with the concept and deepen their understanding. This approach allows for differentiation and encourages collaboration among students.