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Swirling Numbers – Fact Family Game

September 28, 2010

Fact Family Game – Swirling Numbers

For years my friend and mentor, Rita, have commiserated on how hard Fact Families are for some students.  Some get the concept readily and it’s like revelations!  Others struggle with it – not able to grasp the big picture.  So over the years I have come up with a few tricks.

Fact Family Picnic – I wrote a goofy story about number people that my students would then act out.

Number Kids

Number Kids made of clay to go the my Fact Family Picnic Story.

They seem to enjoy the antics of the number people and becoming the number people and for some students that has done it.  But the group I shared it with last spring still didn’t get it.  So I was trying to come up with something concrete that they would understand and viola!  All of them knew what a swirl was – they were even able to describe it and give me examples, like the motion of the water in a toilet.  Great but we aren’t going down the toilet, we just want to swirl around.

Now for the numbers.  I asked them, “How many ways can you use these 3 numbers in a equation using 2 addition signs and 2 subtraction signs?”  Once they started to really look at the numbers, hands were going up and soon all of them could show me on the board what the 4 combinations were no matter how hard I tried to make the problems.

For the next day I wrote fact family numbers on bingo chips and had the students write the equations for the swirl numbers.  Eureka!! I think it worked like a dream and the students at fun too!  Let me know if it works for you!

Student completing the Swirl Number combinations.

Here my student is confidently completing the assignment.

Completing the task easily.

She was able to show her mastery of the concept!


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