Every teacher knows how important it is for students to learn their basic math facts. It is the basis for being able to do more difficult math skills and concepts easily and quickly. As primary teachers, we are always looking for ways to help our students master their math facts, but in a more fun way than flashcards or “kill and drill” websites. We do believe that those resources have their place, but student engagement is so important in all that we do.
As teachers don’t you always enlist the help of your students’ parents to help their children memorize these facts? (We have been known to beg and plead!) Well, one parent we learned of went a step further for her daughter to help her master her multiplication facts in third grade. She made a creative card game by hand for her daughter to play at home. Her idea was such a hit that her daughter’s 3rd grade teacher encouraged her to produce it, which she finally did…several years later.
Maureen McConaghy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a math tutor and the parent of that lucky 3rd grader. She told us that she thinks “games are a great way to help kids get excited about math.” Her game is called the Nexus Multiplication Game.
Maureen was nice enough to send us our own game and we immediately thought of our two youngest boys. Spencer and Evan love games and both are working on memorizing their multiplication facts. We explained the directions and let them play. The boys had fun and even got some needed practice.
We sat back and watched as they played. Here is what we like:
1. The game was simple enough for the boys to play on their own. This isn’t a concern at home but in a classroom, it is important for children to be able to follow the directions and not need constant teacher direction. We think third grade and up could definitely use this game without repeated teacher input.
2. While it was simple for the boys to learn, it still offered a challenge. They did not need to simply recall multiplication facts but have a deeper understanding. It reminded us a little more of an algebra problem. The boys might have 11 and 99 showing and have to determine what the missing factor was. We even tested the game out on our older boys (10 and 11.) Even though both have their facts memorized, they still enjoyed the game. In a classroom setting, this means that even the students who have memorized their facts will still be engaged.
3. Two sets of cards are available – this makes for easier differentiation. One set is designed for younger students and the other set includes facts up to 12 x 12. As teachers, we always appreciate when differentiation is made easy for us!
4. As a bonus – the deck of cards can be divided in two. This makes it possible for two groups of six students to play at once. Half of the class can be playing the game while the other half is working with the teacher.
We are looking forward to sharing this game with the third grade teachers at our schools. We think it will be a big hit. You should try it out too! You can find the game on Amazon via the link below…