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Easy and Engaging Ways for ADHD Kids to Learn Math Facts

If you are frustrated with helping your ADHD kiddo learn math facts, these fun ideas for will help!

 ADHD kids often have trouble memorizing math facts….short term memory issues go hand in hand with ADHD. Our kids are smart, but sometimes it does not always translate to things that are going on at school.

This can cause a lot of frustration and anxiety on their part – and yours – that can be avoided!!

In this post you will learn:

  • Why it’s even important for kids to know their math facts
  • At what age should kids know their addition, subtraction, multiplication and divison facts
  • Fun games to play to help learn facts
  • Engaging books that teach facts in a very visual way
  • Systems for learning facts
  • Tons of ways to use a boring deck of flash cards to turn up the fun!!

The Personal Back Story Behind This Post

I am a mom to two boys with ADHD and have also been a teacher for 20 plus years. One of the first signs I noticed that something “might be up” with my oldest was in 1st grade.

This busy, smart boy of mine completely melted down around learning his math facts — and to boot his teacher publicly posted the kids’ test results in the form of a rocket going up a bulletin board. (Don’t get me started…)

I was so puzzled by the fact that he just could not remember his addition math facts and the act of memorizing them caused him so much stress…

Because his Neuropsyche test revealed his short term memory was challeneged, we have some answers as to why it’s so dificult for him. But that didn’t erase the fact that he needed to know his facts.

I had to get creative and these ideas were born out of a desperate need for me to help my son. We also found some fantastic products along the way.

Why should kids know their facts, anyway?

There are many reasons you should help even kids who struggle to learn their math facts:

  • Mathematics skills build on each other. The better your kids have a handle on foundational concepts, the easier it is for you to learn the more difficult stuff. And the faster you can grasp new material.
  • Once kids hit 3rd or 4th grade, the better they know their facts, the easier math will be. Think long division and multiplying large numbers.
  • Knowing their facts will give kids confidence and can stave off math anxiety, which can easily creep in when kids feel frustrated and behind.
  • As kids memorize their facts and move thru different operations, they begin to gain number sense and make connections. They might realize that multiplication is really adding multiple numbers or addition and subtratction are inverse operations.

At what age should kids know their facts?

Children as young as toddlers can begin to gain a sense of numbers. Having fun with numbers, learning to see patterns, sorting and counting and comparing are all great foundational skills to work on with smaller kids.

Kindergarten is probably when most kids first encounter mathematical equations and start to learn their facts. Depending upon where your kids go to school, they may or may not have wrote memorization quizzes.

As a teacher, my general rule of thumb is:

  • Addition and subtraction facts thru 20 should be “memorized” by mid to end of 3rd grade
  • Multiplication/Division facts with factors thru 10 should be “memorized” by the end of 5th grade

Certainly, the expectations for your child may be different, and it just might be that your kiddo, like my own two boys, will need some extra help getting their facts down.

And I truly hope, they don’t have the pressure situation my kiddo had. (If they do, ask to opt out!!)

fun (and effective) ways to learn facts?

There are so many fun ways for kids to build their number sense, learn their facts and just have fun with all things math! The more pressure you take off the situation and make it fun from an early age, the better your kids will be in the long run. Trust me on this one!

But if you feel like you already “messed it up” and have put pressure on your kids, never fear!! These ideas will come to your rescue.

What Games Can Help Kids Learn Math Facts?

I know there are lots of apps and online games for learning facts, but why have another reason to have a computer in your kids’ hands?

These screen free ideas are awesome and come with no side effects or sneaking on Youtube.

Shut the Box (pictured above) is a fun game to learn simple facts. One to four players roll the dice and “shut” or flip over the sum showed on the dice. or any combination of numbers to equal the roll of the dice. For instance, if the roll equals 10, a player can flip over the 10 or any other combination of numbers that equal 10.

A more difficult variation can be played, where players can use any operation for their roll – great for multiplication and division facts.

My students even play Shut the Box during indoor recess!

Cribbage , another great game for learning facts, can take a while to learn, but boy, there is a ton of mental math involved in this simple game invented by a wealthy English Poet. Played with a simple wooden scoring board and a deck of ordinary cards, this is a great one to teach your kids starting around 10.

The 24 Game is geared towards 3rd grade and up and is a great to practice mulitple step problems and all the operations. 4 numbers are given and the object is to make an equation that equals 24. If the card had a 4, 1, 2 and 3 you could say: 2 times 3 equals six, times 4, times 1 equals 24. Often cards have multiple solutions.

This game promotes multiple points of view as there can be many correct answers for each card. 24 has so many factors, kids are practicing so many facts during the course of the game.

What Books Can Help Kids Learn Their Math Facts?

Times Tales (Book and DVD/Audio recording) uses fun stories and unique visuals to teach the most difficult multiplication facts. This is one of the easiest ways for kids to learn their facts – each number is given a character and the facts involve easy to remember stories.

I purchased this when my son was in third grade and it helped him learn his multiplication facts quickly. It’s super for visual kids (We just had the workbook) and it’s totally corny, but that’s the reason for it’s success.

For the younger set(3/4th grade and under), there are some great picture books that help kids with their facts. We love The Grapes of Math and The Best of Times, both by Greg Tang. Two x Two Equals Boo is also a favorite!

For more picture books to help with math, check out my Pinterest Board.

What are Some Creative ways to Use Flash Cards ?

Flash cards are so readily available, portable, and so easy to use.

But they can get boring, pretty quickly.

(Side note, these are my favorite flash cards for durability and simplicity : Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division)

You have to get creative and began to think of flashcards in a whole new way. These time tested and kid-approved ideas are compiled here for you to try with the kids in your life. Once I saw success with my own children, I started using these “hacks” in my classroom and got great results.

Sort the Cards.

You’ll need a few Post-it notes (Extra Small and/or Small)for this one. Kids will be sorting the cards into categories, like 0-10, 11-20, etc. You choose the categories depending on the operation and their level. You can hand pick about 10 cards for them to sort and add more as they increase their skills.

The great thing about this one is they don’t have to know the exact answer, rather they can use their number sense to put the flash cards into the proper category.

PRO TIP: You can model this one by talking out loud about how you know where to sort them. ” I know 5 plus 5 equals 10 and 10 plus 10 equals 20, so 6 plus 7 must be in between 10 and 20.”

Even and Odds

Work on two skills at once and sort the flash cards into even and odd answers.

Compare the Cards

Line up from least to greatest. Give your child about 5 to 10 flash cards and they have to lay then in a line from least answer to greatest answer. They can use their number sense to fit in the one’s they don’t know yet.

Give Them the Answer

Have you child match up answers written on post-it notes with the flash cards. Then mix them up and have your kiddo correct the answers for you.

Use movement. 

My grandmother used to play 52 card pick up to “keep her figure”. She’d literally dump a deck of cards in front of her and bend down and up, picking up one card at a time. These games are an homage to her.

Spread the Cards You can spread cards all over the floor (or all over the room, basement, etc.) and give directions, like:

  • “Bring me 5 cards the equal 10”
  • “Find 10 cards that equal less than 20”
  • “Find 5 problems that you know the answer to and 5 you do not”
  • “Find all the cards that equal 14, 15 or 16”.

Leap Card Make a line of flash cards and jump from one to the other saying the answers out loud as you jump. 

I’ve got a FREE download for you with these ideas, plus more – 14 different ways in all for you to use flash cards in a fun way. I hope you find them as helpful and engaging as we have.

Remember to do them with a light heart and a fun spirit. I suggest that you practice in short sessions (10 minutes or so) and do them several times a week until the facts have been pretty much mastered. Many of these can be done in the car or in quick pockets of time anytime of the day. Modify as you deem necessary to fit your child’s needs.

I LOVE feedback.  Let me know how it goes!

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