Tag Archives: multiplication facts

Penguins! A game for the whole family

Happy Monday, all!

In a time when we find ourselves spending more time together, learning and thinking and playing together at home, I wanted to share a game that is appropriate for players of all ages.  The game “Penguins!” is strategic and fun for the whole family!

To play you’ll need 2 regular 6-sided dice and some counters.  They can be beans coloured on one side with a marker, or even some Cheerios and some Shreddies cereal. It’s a good idea to have a piece of paper and a pencil handy for calculations.

Here’s how to play (full instructions are included on the “Penguins!” game board):

Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 8.54.30 PMRoll the dice. Look at the numbers.

Find the sum and write it down. (add the numbers)

Find the difference and write it down. (subtract one number from the other)

Find the product and write it down. (multiply the numbers)

Now decide which one of these answers (the sum, the difference or the product) you will use. You can only pick one!  Cover that number in your colour. Let your partner have a turn.  If your sum AND your difference AND your product are taken, you can cover a penguin instead! Three in a line in your colour wins the game.

Have fun!





Simple Dice Games for Math Practice

Hello friends

Today marks the beginning of a new kind of school — the stay-at-home kind. More than ever we are going to need to be flexible and patient and kind to our kids, their parents and our teacher colleagues.  We are in uncharted waters… but not without good will!

I wanted to offer up a couple of simple dice games for you to play at home, to build number sense and computational fluency while having fun…

Mastering the Facts Addition 2nd ed coverFor more games like these, check out my resources entitled: Mastering the Facts Addition (2nd Edition) , Mastering the Facts Subtraction and Mastering the Facts Multiplication (2nd Edition) available from my online store.

Stay safe.  Be kind.



Reach for the Top  You can play this game alone, with a partner or against a partner. Print a copy of the Reach for the Top grid available here.

How to play: Roll two 6-sided dice. Find the sum. Write the equation in the box over the sum (or colour it in). The game is over when one of the sums reaches the top! (See the sample game below.)Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 6.31.38 PM


Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 7.38.42 PMOrder of Operations Bowling: You can play this game alone, with a partner or against a partner. You need one 6-sided die and the optional Bowling Pin recording sheet attached. The object of the game is to “knock down” all the bowling pins from 1 to 10.

How to play: Roll the die 3 times. Record the 3 numbers. Use these three numbers — in any order — to create an equation with an answer of 1. You must use all three numbers. Once you’ve found an equation (or 2 or 3!) with an answer of 1, cross off the bowling pin with the number 1 on it. Now move on to the number 2, then 3, then 4… until you have created equations with all the answers from 1 to 10. Each time you find an equation, you can knock down the pin with that number on it.

If you can knock down all 10 bowling pins with one set of numbers, you get a “strike”.  If not, roll the dice 3 more times to get a new set of numbers and continue.  Two sets of numbers earns you a “spare”. How many different operations can you use?

In the sample round below, Player A rolled a 1, a 5 and a 6.  She used all 3 numbers to create equations (a whole bunch of them!) with an answer of 1. She chooses one of the equations and knocks down the 1 pin.  She then moves on to create equations with an answer of 2.

Screen Shot 2020-03-29 at 7.44.19 PM



Mastering the Basic Facts – Resources from Campbell River

I am very proud to announce the publication of two teacher resources called Mastering the Facts – Addition and Mastering the Facts – Multiplication. Created in collaboration with the Campbell River School district, these resources combine my work with the work of teacher leaders in elementary schools in Campbell River. We wanted to put together a set of lessons that could be used in classrooms across the province to help students truly master – and not just memorize – their basic facts.

Each book includes a set of lessons describing each of the facts, both addition and multiplication. Featuring strategies like “doubles”, “double doubles” and “bridging through tens”, the books make explicit connections to our WNCP curriculum and the mental math learning outcomes at each grade level.  Each lesson features a direct instruction component and a “before-during-after” lesson frame. Guided practice, literature connections, real-world problems, independent practice (games) and fluency builders are also included. For each lesson, there is an assessment component to sort out what students know and can do.  It evaluates in numbers, pictures, words, models and real-world problems the extent to which students have mastered the strategy – and also mastered the facts themselves. Games, line masters, literature links and assessment tools are included in the resource.

In addition to the teacher resources, a set of Addition Posters and Multiplication Posters are also available to describe – in pictures, and in students’ words – how each strategy is applied.  There are 9 posters in the set, printed on 11″x17″ glossy bond paper.

Although the books and posters are being distributed through the Campbell River School District, I am available – and happy! – to do professional development with school staffs and resource teams around the materials.  This might involve a series of sessions with time scheduled in between to apply and try the strategies, or an overview session to learn techniques and practice the games…  Books for participants would be made available for the sessions so we could speak to the lessons explicitly.

I am very proud of these materials and of all the teachers who collaborated to produce them.



Click here to order!

Mastering the Multiplication Facts – Strategic thinking…

Hello to my colleagues in Coquitlam!

I wanted to share a template for a set of multiplication flash cards that are set up to be used by strategy.  You’ll notice that in the attached multiplication fact cards file, each of the fact families appears in a different colour, to bring to mind the particular strategy that matches the fact.   The hope here is that, like with Cuisenaire rods. the related colours will help to call to mind the relationships between the facts themselves.  I recommend that students cut apart the cards and practice the facts by strategy, one at a time, as they learn and then recall them.

Here’s the idea…

Consider the “multiply by 5” facts.  For these, we think of the 10’s facts, and then find half of it…

7 x 5… think   7 x 10 ÷ 2   or    70 ÷ 2

Because the 5 facts are related to the 10’s fact, their colours are likewise related in the flash cards – yellow for the 5’s and orange for the 10’s.

The 9’s are another fact related to ten.  For the “multiply by 9’s” we think multiply by ten and subtract one group.

7 x 9… think   7 x (10 – 1)  or  7 x 10 – 7

The 9 fact cards are in a related colour as well – red for the 9’s and orange for the tens.

In the same vein, the 2’s are green, the fours are dark green (since they are double twos or the “double-doubles”) and the 3’s are blue.  All are related colours, and each family uses the 2’s in some way.  For three, we think double and add one set, like so:

7 x 3…. think 7 x (2 + 1)   or   7 x 2 + 7

As for the remaining colours, the 1’s facts are all in white to highlight their simplicity (What you see is what you get!!), the square numbers are purple (for no other reason than purple is my favourite colour and the squares are my favourite facts!) and the last three remaining facts – the most complex ones to master strategically – are in pink.

The facts that are the reverse of all of these (the commutative or “flip-around” facts) have been left uncoloured in the bottom left hand corner of the virtual chart, since if we master the coloured ones – and practice them both forwards and backwards – we will likewise have mastered these ones.  You might choose to print and cut them out, or not.

Hope this proves helpful…


multiplication facts – coloured