If you’re a primary teacher, you have probably taught your students about fact families. These not only help with fact fluency, but they give students the strategies they will need to help make adding and subtracting larger numbers easier. If you’re looking to make this time a little more fun and meaningful for your students, check out these fact family games and activities.
What is a Fact Family?
A fact family is a group of 3 numbers that work together to create related facts. It works for addition & subtraction as well as multiplication and division. Sometimes you’ll also see fact families referred to as related facts, number bonds, or the part-part-whole model.
Why Teach Fact Families?
Fact families help students see how addition and subtraction are related. When students see the relationships within a fact family, they begin to see mathematical properties like the commutative property (a+b = b+a). This means they see that the answer is the same even when the addends are switched around. They see the part-part-whole model for addition and subtraction. This means that when you put two parts together, you make a whole group. Or, when you take one part from the whole group, you’re left with the other part.
Fact Family Games and Activities
Make it Visual
When students are first starting to add numbers and learn about the commutative property (aka turn-around or flip-flop facts), adding a visual can be very helpful. One way you can do this is with colored counters. Students use one color for each addend. They can physically move the two groups of counters around and see that no matter which order they are placed, the sum remains the same. This is what it might look like for the problem 2+5=7.
Create a Fact Family House
Since related facts are often called a fact family, it seems natural to use a home to represent the family. The roof holds the three members of the family, and the base of the house holds the four related facts. You can grab a free template here. If you place the page in a sheet protector or dry erase pocket, the page can be reused again and again.
You can also use this opportunity to incorporate art and have students create a house out of paper. Each window lifts up to reveal one of the four related facts in the fact family. Grab this free template to use with your own students.
Fact Family Dice Game
You know I love using math manipulatives to provide hands-on learning for students and dice are one of my favorite tools. For this activity, students roll the dice to create two addends. Students add the numbers to find the third member of the fact family.
You can find this activity in my Dice Games pack.
For this activity you will need 5 or 6 students, white boards, dry erase markers, and a bit of space in the front of the classroom. Give each of the students a white board to hold. Choose a fact family and write one number or symbol on each board (make sure they are out of order). Students will look at the information and 5 of them will physically rearrange themselves to make an accurate fact family equation. Once the equation is correct, challenge them to move around again to create a new equation. Repeat until all four equations have been created. You can repeat this process with a new group of students and a set of new numbers.
If you are working with a small group, give students sticky notes or number/symbol cards. Call out three numbers. Students physically move the cards around to create the fact family on the table in front of them.
Fact Family Dominoes
If you have a set of dominoes lying around in your classroom, get them out and put them to use. For this activity, students draw a domino and add the two numbers to create the third member of the fact family. Then students record the four related facts and repeat the steps until the page is complete.
You can find this in my Dominoes Activities pack.
Find a Fact Family
This is a 2-player game, but could also be played independently. Grab a deck of cards and remove the face cards (J, Q, K). Shuffle and lay face down in a stack. Draw four cards and place them face up next to the deck. On a player’s turn, he looks at the four cards and tries to find an addition fact family. In this example, the student might say 3+5=8. He would collect the three cards and replace the empty slots with new cards from the deck.
If there are no facts to be found, the player draws one card and lays it over any one of the other cards that are showing and the other player takes a turn. When no more fact families can be made and the deck is empty, the game is over. The player with the most cards collected wins.
What are your favorite ways to work on fact families in the classroom?
You might also enjoy these math games and activities:
- Fun Ways to Practice Doubles
- Making 10 Games and Activities
- Telling Time Games and Activities
- Counting Coins Games and Activities
- Hundreds Chart Activities