For some reason, math is a subject that creates fear in the hearts of students and parents. I actually believe that some of this is because children look to their parents to see how to react to things. You know what I mean. You are watching your toddler take her first few steps and suddenly she tips over and falls to the ground. Though she is unhurt, she quickly looks up at you to get a cue how to react. If you respond with a terrified look and begin to dote over her with emotion, she will begin to cry, believing that this is a situation that warrants it. But if you gently smile and say, “Oops! You’re OK. Let’s try again.” She will happily begin to pull herself back up and try again.

Yep, that is pretty much the same thing with math. If you begin the morning saying, “Well, let’s get math over with so we can get on with more fun stuff,” don’t you think that you are influencing your children regarding how to think about math?

I know, I know. It is hard to get all excited about a subject we don’t exactly love. But I hope to help you find ways to make this sometimes challenging subject more fun and engaging.

Therefore I am happy to introduce a method that makes learning math facts fun: Triangle Flash Cards!

“Triangle?” you say. “I thought flash cards were rectangle shaped.”

Well the boring ones are. But these are inexpensive, easy to make, and fun to use. They provide tactile ways your students can learn. And they are versatile, enabling you to use a single set for both multiplication and division or addition and subtraction.

The idea is that there are three components to a math fact: the two figures you are adding or multiplying together and the answer. These three parts of the math “sentence” can be put in the three corners of a flash card so that when any of the three corners is covered up, the student can try to solve the missing component.

For example, in the card below, I am covering the solution to the problem, 4 x 7. When the student guesses the answer, I remove my hand to see if it is correct.

Alternatively, I can cover up the 4 and ask the student what is 28 divided by 7. Or I can cover up the 7 and ask the answer to 28 divided by 4. Get it?

When all the flash cards are created, you can group them to best fit your needs. Working on multiplying by threes? Line them up like a pine tree so that the top answers are covered. A student can pull out the ones he knows, “chopping” down the tree as he goes.

Want to work on the doubles? Line up those cards into a tree and have fun!

“How do I make these cards?” you ask. Well, it’s easy. I will explain the steps in this post and will follow up with another post on how to break down the math facts into easy bites, focusing on the multiplication facts because those seem to be the trickiest to learn.

To make the cards, you will need three sheets of white poster board. Alternatively, you can use unlined 4 x 6 note cards, but I find that they are too thin to be handled much. You will also need a pair of scissors, a ruler and a permanent marker.

You want to first cut rectangles that are six inches by three inches. Then, using a ruler, mark along the top of a card at the three inch mark.

Cut from the bottom right corner to this mark and the bottom left corner to this mark.

You have your first triangle flash card. For the multiplication facts, you will need to make 78 of these for the multiplication/division cards. I know that it sounds like a lot, but once you make your first card, you can use it as a template for the rest and cut them out while you watch a fun video with your kids. It took me about 20 minutes. Then you need to fill the cards in with a permanent marker. Here are the multiplication/division facts (I left out the zeroes because all of the answers are zero, and I find that most students don’t need flash cards to learn those.)

1 x 1 = 1 2 x 6 = 12 3 x 12 = 36 5 x 11 = 55 8 x 9 = 72

1 x 2 = 2 2 x 7 = 14 4 x 4 = 16 5 x 12 = 60 8 x 10 = 80

1 x 3 = 3 2 x 8 = 16 4 x 5 = 20 6 x 6 = 36 8 x 11 = 88

1 x 4 = 4 2 x 9 = 18 4 x 6 = 24 6 x 7 = 42 8 x 12 = 96

1 x 5 = 5 2 x 10 = 20 4 x 7 = 28 6 x 8 = 48 9 x 9 = 81

1 x 6 = 6 2 x 11 = 22 4 x 8 = 32 6 x 9 = 54 9 x 10 = 90

1 x 7 = 7 2 x 12 = 24 4 x 9 = 36 6 x 10 = 60 9 x 11 = 99

1 x 8 = 8 3 x 3 = 9 4 x 10 = 40 6 x 11 = 66 9 x 12 = 108

1 x 9 = 9 3 x 4 = 12 4 x 11 = 44 6 x 12 = 72 10 x 10 = 100

1 x 10 = 10 3 x 5 = 15 4 x 12 = 48 7 x 7 = 49 10 x 11 = 110

1 x 11 = 11 3 x 6 = 18 5 x 5 = 25 7 x 8 = 56 10 x 12 = 120

1 x 12 = 12 3 x 7 = 21 5 x 6 = 30 7 x 9 = 63 11 x 11 = 121

2 x 2 = 4 3 x 8 = 24 5 x 7 = 35 7 x 10 = 70 11 x 12 = 132

2 x 3 = 6 3 x 9 = 27 5 x 8 = 40 7 x 11 = 77 12 x 12 = 144

2 x 4 = 8 3 x 10 = 30 5 x 9 = 45 7 x 12 = 84

2 x 5 = 10 3 x 11 = 33 5 x 10 = 50 8 x 8 = 64

Notice that once I made a card that said 2 x 8, for example, I didn’t have to make one that said 8 x 2, because one card covers both facts.

In the next post, I will include the addition/subtraction facts, plus include fun ways to use the multiplication cards to group the facts so that students will more easily learn them.

So for your homework today, you are charged with approaching math with a happier outlook, knowing that your attitude is easily copied by your children. It’s gonna be OK. Learning math facts doesn’t have to be scary…or boring.

Have an extraordinary day!

Sherri

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