Fact Family Fun

Kathy Gursky at The School Bell has created an amazing math program that teachers can use to help students master addition and subtraction facts.  She has graciously chosen to make it available to all teachers free of charge via the Internet! Her Number Families Program comes complete with instructions and free worksheets, game mats, and tests to download.  I can't wait to incorporate this program into my classroom this year! 

In fact, I became so excited about this program, that I created some more activities that I feel coordinate with Kathy Gursky's program.   Kathy's program provides a variety of games for students to play as they learn each fact family. (Visit her site to download them!) I have created two additional games that I feel would provide additional hands-on practice with number partners.  

Be sure and check out Kathy Gursky's program, and if you have any questions about it, please email her! I did not create the Number Families Program and cannot take any credit for any part of her amazing work.  I only created some additional extension activities that I feel would work well with her program.  These additional activities could also be used in a math center or as part of a daily math lesson. 

Shake the Beans

To play this game, you need a set of two colored beans.  Plastic two-colored beans can be purchased at a local teacher store or you can create your own by spray painting lima beans on one side. To play, a student needs a "Shake the Beans" graphing sheet that coordinates with the number family he or she is studying, a plastic cup, two-colored beans, and a crayon. 


If the student is working on the 7 number family, he would count out 7 beans and place them in a plastic cup.  He would shake the beans and then gently spill them out on the floor.   The student would look at the beans to find the number sentence.  If three of the beans are red and four of the beans are white, the student knows that the number sentence could be either 3+4=7 or 4+3=7.  The student would then color in one square on his graph above 3+4/4+3.  The student repeats the activity for about 10 shakes.  Students love to compare their graphs with other students! 

What a fun way to practice math facts, work with the commutative property, and learn about graphing!

Click to download Shake the Beans.  Print in landscape mode.

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Domino Activities

Dominoes are a great resource for practicing addition and subtraction facts!  Make sure you have a set in your math center.  Here are some fact family activities to use with dominoes:

  • Have students sort out number partners for each fact family using dominoes

  • Using the sorted pile of dominoes, have students draw a domino and fill out the recording sheet to practice addition and subtraction facts.

  • I was able to modify these worksheets from a template that my team member, Cindy Gibson created!

Click below to download fact family domino sheets. 

After printing, some copies would be best copied as two-sided worksheets.

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Download Kathy Gursky's star domino cards.

More Fact Family Fun

This past spring, I was blessed to work with an exceptional student teacher, Mrs. Pam Baker.  She enjoyed teaching math to my first graders and created some wonderful hands-on games for practicing math facts. Here are some of her great ideas:

  • Play "Go Fish":  Mrs. Baker had the students work with a partner to focus on specific fact families. Students were divided into partners or groups of three.  Each group was given a deck of playing cards.  Students sorted the cards to find the number partners for their fact family.  The other cards were set aside and the sorted pile was shuffled.  The students then played "Go Fish."  Students created a pair when they found two numbers that added up to the fact family number.  For example, if they students were playing 8's, a pair could be two 4's, 6 and 2, 5 and 3, etc.

  • Addition Table Challenge: Mrs. Baker had students work with a partner to fill in an addition table.  Then, students used playing cards to play an adding game.  Her original game boards were created on foam board.  Then, she created a separate paper game board that students took home to play with their families.

Download  the game board and instructions.

Questions? Comments?

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