An invaluable piece of advice I received during the early homeschool years was to make sure my children knew their math facts. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – all are foundational to the rest of math. Knowing the math facts makes learning the rest of math a far smoother process.
I’ve never been a math buff, so this was not great news; but I saw the wisdom of it. I tried math fact family flash cards, but these didn’t fit with any of my children’s learning styles. They were quickly dreaded: “Run! It’s those horrible yellow cards again!” We also tried drilling to movement – but my kids would rather move without repeating boring numbers, thank you!
When we moved to our brown house in the woods, I spent several weeks unpacking and organizing. We covered very little schoolwork, and I decided to write that time off and trust that my kids would catch up later. (They were 7, 5, and 3, so we had lots of time.) I knew that they were playing endless rounds of Animalopoly. I didn’t realize they were learning their math facts! Board games, it seems, are a great way to pick up this information almost painlessly.
A second way I found effective was printing math fact sheets for my children to fill in. We did plenty of these, and they helped a great deal. Plenty of fact sheets came with the Saxon curriculum I used, but drill sheets are also available online. I bookmarked Donna Young’s website, which is packed with homeschool resources, including many drill sheets for math facts. You can access it here.
A few years later, I purchased Wrap-Up Keys. I’d overheard a mom raving about these at a homeschool convention. My daughter was still learning her math facts, so I thought Wrap-Ups would be another valuable aid. Sure enough, they proved fun, easy to use, and adaptable to a variety of games and challenges.
These chunky, plastic keys are connected at the top with a rivet. A strong piece of yarn is attached to the top, and math fact problems are printed in raised figures down the left side of each key – one key for the 1’s family, one for the 2’s, and so on. On the right side are matching answers, listed out of order. The child wraps the yarn into grooves, matching the problems to the answers. On the back of the key are raised lines. If the yarn matches the lines, the child has the correct answers – an immediate reward! You can purchase Wrap-Ups at the Steer Me Right Favorite Curriculum Store. (If the products don’t show up at first, please refresh your browser.)
Now in their teens, my children have a solid foundation in math. My oldest plans a career in engineering; he’s taking advanced math to prepare. I’m thankful that, one way or another, all three of them mastered their math facts!