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New activities to promote the memorization of number facts

Author: Simon Lavallée | Publish on September 27, 2021

Over the last year, we created many activities for students in grades 1 and 2. These activities include some 20 activities for mastering the number facts of addition and subtraction.

Strategies to help students

To learn each number fact, a strategy is proposed. These strategies are based on the work students did on understanding numbers which began in preschool, and often well before that, at home with their parents. The strategies are tools made available to students as they work towards memorizing number facts, which are an essential mathematical foundation.

Here are a few examples of the strategies presented:

The objective is to provide an anchor for students to help them memorize the number facts of addition and subtraction, without the use of any tools.

Operations and inverse operations

Among the activities proposed, nearly half are designed to establish a relationship between addition and the inverse operation, that is, subtraction. To do so, we decided to present the values at play in the operation in the form of a table, with the goal of allowing students to reformulate, for example, the operation 8 – 2, by asking the question, “2 + what = 8?” By doing this, the students can refer to the number facts they know to come up with 2 + 6 = 8. Here again, the representation can help the students by establishing the relationship between the numbers and then arriving at the conclusion that “6 has to be added to 2 to obtain 8.”

No time constraints

For these activities, we decided to remove all of the time constraints that are sometimes encountered in number resources. Indeed, as emphasized by Van de Walle and others in their famous works1, the speed of execution does not contribute to learning in all students.

In fact, a certain level of mastery is needed in order for the time constraint to be seen as an accessible and motivating challenge. We feel that the teacher’s judgment is crucial in adequately supporting the development of students’ fluidity without decreasing their motivation and their confidence.

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1. Van de Walle, J. A., Lovin, L. H., Karp, K. S., & Bay-Williams, J. M. (2014). Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics: Developmentally Appropriate Instruction (Volume I-III). Pearson Education.

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