Written by contributing writer Roan of Joyful Always.
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts must be memorized by every child. While there are various computer programs and games available for these math drills, in my experience I have found that old-fashioned paper flashcards have proven most successful in my homeschool.
I have also found that the flashcards that I make myself, work better than the store bought kind. I like to teach my children their math facts in families, so this is how I create personalized math flashcards.
- 5″ x 8″ blank index cards
- On the front of each index card, right a math fact. (1 + 1 =). Using the same color marker, create a set of index cards with all of the 1 + facts. (Like 1 + 2 =, 1 + 3=, 1 + 4=, etc.) So you will have a set of index cards with the 1 + facts.
- On the back of each index card, write in pencil the answer to the math fact that is on the other side of the card. I write this answer in one of the upper corners of the card.
- Also on the back of each card, write a different set of math facts using a different color marker. (2 +0=, 2 +1=, 2 + 2=, etc.). On the reverse side of the card write in pencil the answer to this fact in one of the upper corners.
- Bundle this set of flashcards—the 1 + cards and the 2 + cards with a rubber band.
- Repeat this procedure until you have a set of cards for each family that you want to drill.
I make similar flashcards for subtraction facts, but each card set is all the numbers minus a certain number. For example 10 – 1, 9 – 1, 8 – 1, 7 – 1, etc. Remember to use a different color marker for each set. This helps sort the cards if you or your child accidentally drops them.
The reason that I write in pencil the answer to each fact on the reverse side of the card is so younger children can drill the flashcards with each other. The child doing the drilling can see the answer while the child being drilled can see the math fact on the other side.
After the child has mastered a family of flashcards (like the 3 +), we move to the next family (4 +). When all facts of a particular kind are mastered (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division), I will shuffle all of the families together and continue to drill the mixed up sets on a daily basis until the child has memorized all of the facts. Since the cards are color-coded, they are easily separated into their respective families and are ready for the next child to learn.
I make two sets of flashcards for each family for multiplication and division. One set is made just like the addition and subtraction ones, and then the second set has the answers included in the math fact. The front of the card would have 4 x 5 = 20. The next card would have 4 x 6 = 24. I write these sets with answers in the same color as I write the set that does not have the answer on the front. When my child is learning each new family, like the 2′s or the 3′s or whichever ones, I have them flip through the cards one by one, reading the fact aloud. ”Two times two equals four. Two times nine equals 18.” After they have orally reviewed the set, then I drill them with the same fact family without the answers.
Eventually, we move to daily drills without practicing with the answers included cards first. And then after each family is mastered, we move to shuffling all fact families together and drilling the entire set. One note: when I drill an entire set, I do not drill all of the cards in one day. We will just drill about 20-30 or them, and then I insert a small slip of paper on top before I put the rubber band around the set. I always know to just start with the card that is underneath that slip of paper.
All of this may sound rather complicated, but once you make your flashcards, you will have them forever! I am currently drilling addition facts with my first grader using flashcards that I made for my now 12th grader!
The main thing to remember is that with patience and consistent practice, your child will master his basic math facts.
Roan is the homeschooling mother of five children, and she has been drilling various math facts for 12 years! You can read about her homeschool, her homemaking, her family, and her marathon training at her personal blog, Joyful Always.