Helping students MASTER Math Facts...The Math Facts Challenge!

Today, I’m going to share with you a fun & exciting way to have students master their math facts!  This is about automaticity/memorization.  Students should already have a wide range of strategies for figuring out their facts.   This is about speed and efficiency.  :)  
Here’s what you need…
Index cards 
Hole punch
Each of your students will make a Math Facts Necklace for the challenge.  You can decide on the number of index cards you want your students to have.  For example, if you are working on the “8’s time table,” each student would have 11 index cards.  
First, have students write a math fact on each index card.  (Pencil before marker!)
Then, hole punch each card. 
Shuffle the cards, and string them on a piece of yarn. 
Add the “Ask Me My Math Facts!” card to the front of each students’ necklace.
Download it for FREE here.
Here's how the challenge works...
Students wear their necklaces all day.  I will randomly ask students a math fact from their necklace.  If they get the answer correct, they get to tear the card off the necklace because it has been mastered.  When all their cards have been removed, they get a small prize.  {Trip to the treasure box, piece of candy, switch seats with a classmate for the day, etc.}

Here’s the beauty of this challenge… When students have extra time, they are constantly flipping through their math facts necklace and practicing their facts!  I’ll see them finish their lunch and then look over their facts.  They are excited to practice because they know they could be asked to answer at any time. 

I usually send out an e-mail blast to the faculty and let them know when my students will be taking the Math Facts Challenge.  Then when they are in the hallway or stopping by the front office on an errand, another adult can ask them a math fact.  If they get it correct, they get to tear off the card!  Everyone gets involved… cafeteria staff, librarian, secretary, principal, diagnostician, EVERYBODY!  One time, the bus driver was asking my kids their math facts when they got on the bus.  They were so delighted!! 

If they are asked a math fact and can’t answer it immediately, I just tell the child to KEEP PRACTICING!  By the end of the week, everybody has finished their math facts challenge and earned a little reward. 

If you need added accountability, you can have the adult initial the back of the card that is torn off.  (My kids didn’t cheat though.  They were afraid of getting caught I think.  Haha.)
Make 100% sure students leave these on their desk at the end of the day! 
Have students take their necklaces off at specific times of the day (PE & recess).
Set your ground rules on Day 1.  If kids are swinging their necklace around or pulling on a classmate’s necklace, they lose the privilege to participate.  It gets easier each time you do the challenge, and students won’t mess around if you are firm.

Do this randomly throughout the year! (Don’t do it every week or it will lose it’s allure.) 

Let me know how it works in your classroom!

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