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Getting Better at Math: How Fact Families Can Make Addition and Subtraction Easier

I once worked with a  young boy, we will call him Oliver,  who had a bit of trouble remembering his addition and subtraction facts. Oliver was a bright child, always eager to learn, but when it came to numbers, he found himself getting mixed up and confused.




I noticed his struggle and decided to use fact families as a way to help him see the relationship between numbers, hoping this would help him with memorization.

Fact families are groups of numbers that are related to each other through addition and subtraction. I drew a big house on the whiteboard, dividing it into three rooms. Each room had a door labeled with a number 5, 3, and 8.


I explained that the 3 and 5 are like siblings, living in the same house. When they come together, they make 8. Now, if you close the door to the 5 room and open the door to the 3 room, you can see that 8 - 5 equals 3. The numbers are all connected!





Over the next few weeks, Oliver practiced with various fact families.  Oliver started to see the patterns and connections, and his confidence in math began to grow. He soon learned all of his facts and began helping other students in class.



How Fact Families Can Make Addition and Subtraction Easier





Learning addition and subtraction can be a bit tricky, but there's a cool trick called fact families that can make it way easier. In this blog post, we'll check out what fact families are, why they're helpful, and how students can use them to become pros at adding and subtracting.




Understanding Fact Families:


Fact families are like math BFFs – a group of three numbers that work together in addition and subtraction. Let's take the numbers 3, 4, and 7 as an example. In a fact family, you'd have these equations:


3 + 4 = 7

4 + 3 = 7

7 - 3 = 4

7 - 4 = 3


See? These equations show how the numbers are connected through addition and subtraction. Learning about fact families helps you understand how math works and sets students up for tackling more advanced concepts later on.


Why Fact Families Work:


Building a Strong Foundation:

  • Fact families teach students the big picture of addition and subtraction. Knowing how these operations connect helps students build a strong foundation for dealing with more complicated math later.

Promoting Fluency:

  • Practice makes perfect, right? Fact families give students lots of chances to practice adding and subtracting. The more they practice, the quicker and better they become.

Enhancing Problem-Solving Skills:



  • Figuring out fact families makes students problem-solving ninjas. They can use what they know to figure out new material instead of just memorizing stuff.








Real-world Application:

  • Fact families aren't just for school – they're like secret codes for real-life situations. Students will see how math is connected to everyday tasks, making it more interesting and useful.

Strategies for Learning with Fact Families:


Hands-On Activities:

  • Get hands-on with math by using manipulatives like counters or number lines. It makes the abstract ideas feel more real and easier to understand.

Visual Aids and Charts:

  • Pictures and charts can be a math sidekick. Having a visual guide helps students remember the cool math tricks they've learned.

Interactive Games:

  • Games are awesome for learning. Whether online or board games, they make practicing addition and subtraction super fun.

Story Problems:

  • Imagine math as a cool story. Story problems help students see how math fits into real life, making it more interesting and less like a chore.




Becoming a math superstar is doable, especially with fact families by your side. By using hands-on activities, visual aids, games, and real-life stories, students will be rocking addition and subtraction in no time. Fact families aren't just about memorizing boring facts; they're about understanding the awesome connections in math. So, let's unlock the power of fact families and make math an adventure your student will enjoy!



Stay tuned for free worksheets throughout the week!


Our Exact Path program is a great way to target essential math skills.






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