# Math Fact Games

Math fact games provide a challenging and fun way to motivate a fourth grade class at becoming highly proficient with their multiplication and division tables. I think most fourth grade teachers would agree that it is frustrating to watch kids fall behind in math because they do not have their multiplication tables memorized. Learning math concepts is confusing enough on its own for some kids. Learning long division becomes a monumental task for those students who have to count and use fingers to multiply sets of numbers that they should have memorized. After a while, most teachers can easily recognize which kids are struggling because they do not have their math fact tables memorized. There is simply no way to teach math facts; it is pure memorization. There are routines, however, that we teachers can put in place to make kids practice and even have fun. The key to a math fact program is consistent practice.

## Karate Math Fact Games

This year I decided to make math fact games a daily part of my fourth grade class math routine. Without the luxury of parental volunteers, I attempted to take it upon myself to come up with a similar program, but how could I make it more fun? The idea behind the progression of difficulty with the alphabet got me to thinking, “how can I make it challenging, competitive and fun? Why not use karate belt colors to gauge performance and improvement to challenge and make it more fun for the students? Thus, I began a daily routine of Karate Math Fact Games. The practice sheets are roughly the same as they were at my school from last year. The difference is that instead of alphabet letters, the tests are grades and scored according to karate belt colors.  My wife provided me with some cut-out, karate characters and belts. At the beginning of the school year, each student was given the opportunity to color and customize his own karate character and pin them on the cork bulletin board strip outside of our room where everyone could see them. I used Monday through Thursday for administering practice tests and Friday for belt testing each week. After the practice tests, I allowed the kids to grade their own tests and make their own decisions about what belt color they would try for on Fridays.  This seemed like a great idea in theory, until it came around to my own consistency with administering the practice tests and grading them on Friday each week. It also became very cumbersome for me to manage, print and keep track of different levels of tests each day. I am sorry to say that I completely lost the desire to keep up with the program by the middle of our first trimester. I feel badly for not doing a better job of keeping up with this particular math fact game because the kids were really enjoying the challenge each day. Sometimes, though, teachers have to re-invent the wheel and focus on what is practical.  So, rather than obsess over my guilt, I’ve implemented a new program that is much easier to manage and administer.

## Karate Math Facts Version 2

The Karate Math Facts game version 2 consists of a one-size-fits-all math facts sheet of 100 problems. From this point forward, I will have only one math facts practice sheet to print throughout the week. Also, I will use the same, printed sheet for the test on Fridays. The latest version will simply award belt colors based on the percentage grade of the correctly answered facts. Since, I have not started this program, I will do a pre-assessment test to make sure the belt levels and percentages reasonably reflect the ability of the students. I have attached an image as an example here, but I can adjust the levels accordingly. From recent experience, I am pretty certain that there are at least a few students who will be challenged at the yellow belt level color. On the upper end of the scale, there are a small few who should come close to 100%. Not only will this system be easier to manage, but I actually think it will make more logical sense for the students. By having a percentage to aim for, they will be motivated, challenged, and know exactly where they stand with their math fact abilities. In addition to the karate challenge, there are other math fact games that keep the students engaged and striving to be their best.

## Mastering Math Facts

### It’s more than a Game

I believe that ultimately, the only way for a child to really master his or her math facts is to practice at home. When I was in fourth grade I remember practicing my flash cards every night with mom, dad, siblings, friends, or whomever was available and willing to help.  Mastering memorization of everyday math facts is like anything else: it takes work and consistent practice. Math fact games are not going to replace the need for practice. What these games can and will do, however, is provide the encourage, motivation, and incentive for kids to take math seriously and practice at home. I’ve always believed that educational games are a motivating force. They can help us learn as long as we are willing to do the work necessary to make ourselves better. Daily math fact routines create a lot of work for teachers or volunteer parents, but nobody is really getting excited about them, are they? At the end of the day, we have to ask whether or not these programs are helping the kids who are slow with their math facts or simply patting kids on the back who are already sufficient in this area. I think these games offer an instinctive way for all students in the classroom to improve. At the same time, these games can provide teachers with a more natural and simple method of differentiation within the classroom. Fourth graders don’t always make the connection between individual practice and the payoff with their school work and tests. Math fact games are just one tool in many to help give all kids of varying abilities that extra, motivating push to get faster and better.

### 1 thought on “Math Fact Games”

1. Keirsten Heckel

In addition to the app you mentioned above (AirServer), you can also use Reflector 2 to mirror your iOS device to your iPad screen. With Reflector 2, you can mirror and record multiple devices at once, so it’s great for collaboration among students and even have them compare their work side by side. It works in a 1:1 and BYOD environment, as Reflector 2 works cross-platform.

To protect your classroom, Reflector 2 has extended security features, so students don’t share inappropriate content of have outsiders trying to mirror to your screen.