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Fun Fact Family Activities to Help Kids Understand This Math Basic

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Photo of Jeanne Sager
Updated | 3 min read

When it comes to teaching addition and subtraction, the number fact family concept is a great way to get kids to move from using their fingers to “remove” or “add” numbers and into doing that all-important mental math.

But if you’re scraping the barrel for ideas on how to make teaching fact families fun, that’s where we come in.

What Is a Fact Family?

Maybe you know this already, and you can feel free to make a jump right into the activities! Then again, maybe you just want a reminder.

Basically, a fact family is a group of three different numbers that are related to each other (the way members of a family are) and can be used to create four different number sentences.

The goal is to use these related numbers — or families — to help kids make the connections between subtraction and addition (although it can be used for multiplication and division in the upper grades too).

So, for example …

Addition and Subtraction Fact Family Examples

Some fact families can create two addition number sentences and two subtraction number sentences.

For example, the numbers 3, 4, and 7 form a fact family and can be represented by the following number sentences:
3 + 4 = 7
4 + 3 = 7
7 – 3 = 4
7 – 4 = 3
Subtraction is the opposite of addition, so the familial relationship here is an inverse one.

Hands-On Fact Family Activities

Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about those fun fact family activities for kids!

Colored Counters Activity

Teaching fact families is like teaching any other math concept — you want to start with something concrete before you move on to the more abstract concepts.

Get out the two-colored counters, provide each student with 7 counters, and tell them to place the counters in two groups.

Call on students to ask what their groups were, and write the equation on your whiteboard for students to see first as an addition problem.

For example, if a student has groups of 4 and 3, you would write 4+3=7.

Ask that student to flip their counters, so the groups are opposite, and write the representative equation: 3+4=7.

Now ask the student to take away one group — 7-4=3.

And so on.

Pop It Fact Families

Push bubble fidget toys are a hot commodity in schools these days, so use them for math centers!

Hide facts (with answers) throughout the Pop It by writing numbers on the bubbles. If the numbers are adjacent and make a completed fact — for example, 7-4=3, the students can push the numbers down!

Create a Fact Family House

Following the family theme, building a fact family house is not just a good way to cement the concept but also a pretty fun one for kids.

They can draw their own houses — model one on the whiteboard showing a triangle roof and square house with four squares for “windows” inside.

In the attic (the triangle), have your students write the 3 numbers of the fact family.

In each window, they can then write the 4 number sentences that can be made with those three numbers.

Fact Family Group Bingo

Bingo is always a hit in the classroom, and it’s a fun activity for teaching fact families too, as well as a perfect math centers activity.

Print out a fact family worksheet, and give students sets of dice to work with. After rolling the two dice, students put counters on the fact families that match. The first student to get four in a row wins!

fact family bingo game with counters

Fact Family Blast Off

Shoot off into outer space with this fun fact family activity for kids! Each rocket ship printable has four spaces inside, and students have to match their fact families to the rock ship in order to fuel it up for the big space mission!

Need more Fact Family activities? Check out these teaching resources for fact family fun!


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