## What are Math Drills?

Math drills are exercises given to students that can help improve their speed and ease of recall. The goal of math drills is to help students develop automaticity, allowing them to instantly recall from memory the answer to any math fact. If carefully designed timed math drills can help check which facts the student has learned and which ones the student needs to work on. If not carefully designed, they can be a terror to children. Carefully designed math drills in the elementary grades can smooth the way for easy success later on in math.

### Why Is Math Fact Fluency Important?

Math fact fluency is important because it is the first step to developing automaticity. Automaticity frees up the students’ short term memory for more important questions. It means students can answer basic math facts like 7 x 9 or 4 + 8 instantly, by recall without effort. Students who aren’t fluent in math facts, have to stop and figure out facts, and then won’t be able to focus on higher-order math lessons. This could lead to them missing parts of the instruction.

## How Do Online Math Drills Help Children Develop Math Fact Fluency?

Correctly recalling the answer to a math fact strengthens the neural connection between the problem such as 9 plus 7, and its answer, 16. [Note that repeating a fact over and over does not achieve the same result. Finding the answer in memory and producing it is what strengthens that connection.] Math drills that ask students to recall answers to a couple of targeted facts, mixed in with other facts the student already knows, makes those neural connections stronger until they can answer those targeted facts correctly, and eventually without any conscious thought. The curriculum should not go on to target any more new facts to learn until the student is fluent with the ones learned so far. A computer program is able to patiently provide this practice for as long as each student needs, which is wonderful.

### Why are Math Tests Timed?

Math tests are timed to tell if students are solving math facts by recall rather than deriving the answer. By timing the tests, teachers can tell which students are able to recall answers instantly and which ones need more help to develop automaticity.

Before I understood this, I made students do pages of mixed math facts, which they did by figuring them out.  However, that practice was not helping them become fluent. Timing those pages of mixed facts would not have helped either. In graduate school, I was taught the learning principles that would help students develop fluency. Students need to focus on a small number of facts so they can recall them. So math drills should be composed of a carefully selected set of facts.  This is the key to the design of Rocket Math and is why it works so well.

## What Kind Of Drills Should Your Child Do?

At the very least, your child should learn the basic 1s through 9s math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These will make a huge difference in your child’s success in math. However, if you want to help your child become really proficient and confident in math, there are more things you can drill at each grade level.

### Kindergarten Math Drills

Kindergarteners need to be able to count objects as well as rote count. Rocket Math’s Beginning Numerals program helps them learn to count objects and match the result with the right numeral.  They should practice counting up to 20, at least, and counting by tens to 100. Kindergarten students also need to learn the concept of addition, of combining two groups to find the total. The Rocket Math Conceptual Addition program will guide a teacher in developing concept of addition as well as the skill of “counting-on” from a number.  Kindergarteners should be explicitly taught how to write the numerals and be given drills to practice consistent numeral formation. Obviously this is not something that can be practiced online, but a good writing practice program such as Rocket Writing for Numerals will set your child up for success.

In first-grade, learning how to count and write numerals is assumed. The key skill to drill on in first-grade is Addition facts 0 through 9. Once those are learned, children can drill on addition facts to 20, such as 13+6, or 4+15. You can also drill first-grade students on fact families, which combine addition and subtraction facts. A fact family example is 3+2, 2+3, 5-2, 5-3. In first-grade fact families (+, -) up to 10 is a reasonable amount to learn.

If addition skills from first-grade are mastered, then drilling on subtraction facts 0 through 9s are the top priority. Once those are learned, students will benefit from drilling up to the 20s in subtraction, such as 17-5 or 19-8. You can also drill second-grade students on fact families, which combine addition and subtraction facts. In second-grade, once fact families up to 10 are mastered, you can drill them on fact families from 11, such as 8+5, 5+8, 13-5, 13-8. Skip counting, or counting by a number (such as by fours- 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40), is useful to learn in second-grade. Also, second-grade is not too soon to begin drilling students on identifying fractions.

Starting in third-grade multiplication facts is essential from this point onward and can’t be counted on fingers. The basic multiplication facts 1 through 9 must be memorized and drills are the only way to do that. Even if addition and subtraction are not yet mastered it is essential to get multiplication facts learned. Then you can go back and pick up addition and subtraction.

Alternatively, or additionally, students can begin drilling on fact families in multiplication and division. An example of this kind of fact family is 4 x5 , 5 x 4, 20 ÷ 4, 20 ÷ 5. Fact families up to 20 are enough in third-grade.

After multiplication facts 1 through 9, you can move on to drilling the 10s-11s-12s. Also, Identifying Fractions is something that third-grade students can become fluent in. Factors (finding all the factors of a number) can be drilled at this grade level or any time in the next three years.

In fourth-grade, it is essential that multiplication facts 1s through 9s are in place first before drilling on division facts. Students will quickly realize division facts are just the opposite of multiplication facts. Once division facts 1s through 9s are learned, you should go back and make sure that addition and subtraction are mastered. After addition and subtraction facts are automatic, then start students on multiplication 10s-11s-12s and division 10s-11s-12s. Once all of these are mastered, students can work on either identifying fractions or factors. Another skill that can greatly help students in later grades is memorizing equivalent fractions.

Students in fifth-grade or higher should be fluent in all these basic math areas: multiplication (1s through 9s), addition (1s through 9s), subtraction (1s through 9s), and division (1s through 9s). These can be strengthened by doing fact families with each of these operations: fact families (+, -) to 10, fact families (+, -) from 11, fact families (x, ÷) to 20, and fact families (x, ÷) from 21. Once these are done, students can start drilling on factors, identifying fractions, equivalent fractions, then learning to add and subtract integers. Then the students can start multiplication 10s-11s-12s and division 10s-11s-12s. The same sequence applies in any grade after fifth. The more facts learned in math to the level of automaticity, the easier the rest of math will be.

The Rocket Math Online Tutor provides the right amount of drill to help your child learn these basic skills. Providing plenty of practice, it is timed and requires students to recall facts (answering within 3 seconds) before moving on to learn more facts. They work their way up through 26 sets, from Set A to Set Z, learning more facts as they go along. The game provides many milestones of progress, lots of little breaks and congratulations as students progress through the twelve Learning Tracks. You can place your child in these tracks in the order you choose. The Rocket Math Online Game includes the following sixteen Learning Tracks.

See a video of how it teaches here.

## The Rocket Math Worksheet Program also provides math drills

Math drills are important for setting your students up for success later in life. Help them build their automaticity and become fluent in the basic math facts through Rocket Math Worksheet Program. The Rocket Math Worksheet Program includes more Learning tracks than the Online Games and you can use this program to help your students with basic math skills.

Here is a list of the worksheets in the Rocket Math Worksheet Program.

## Math Facts Practice Online: Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide

Searching for a program to practice math facts online that will help your learner power through their math facts and have fun?

Rocket Math Online Game offers effective addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division practice, and students have a blast doing it! Why do they love the game? The game helps students quickly and methodically memorize math facts, which means less frustration and more fun! The game also shows students their progress with exciting, rocket ship-themed graphics and audio to keep them motivated to learn more. It turns out that students learn better and are more motivated to continue when they can clearly see their progress. Who knew?

## How Rocket Math’s online math game works

Too many children still count on their fingers to figure out basic addition facts. If a child continues to spend hours counting on their fingers, it is a sure way to make them hate math. Professors of education frequently teach that “all rote learning is bad for children.” This is not true when it comes to math facts. Memorizing basic facts is a necessary step (to free up working memory) on the path to higher-order thinking in math, and by skipping math fact memorization, teachers are handicapping their students. As a result of the dogma against memorization, few new teachers have any idea how to effectively help their students memorize.

For example, giving students a worksheet full of problems that they haven’t been able to memorize isn’t going to help. Nor will a computer practice game that randomly gives problems for students to solve. A good math program will provide students with a few math facts at a time to work through before adding more.

Rocket Math Online Game does just this. Starting with two math facts and their reverse, the game won’t let the student move on until they can answer these math problems instantly. Rocket Math Online Game will then gradually, carefully, and systematically add new facts to those already learned. Students have to answer in 3 seconds or less, or they have to do that part over until they can answer the math fact immediately. They will work through set A to set Z with 26 levels in three phases; Take-Off, Orbit, and Universe. Each time they complete a set, the tile for that set explodes and falls away. As students progress through the levels, they can fill out the Rocket Chart to see their progress and stay motivated.

## Addition Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

First-grade students should begin working on the first Learning Track: Addition 1s through 9s math facts and have all those facts memorized first. With Rocket Math Online Game, there are three Learning Tracks to choose from for your first-grade class.

• The Basic Learning Track
• 1. Addition 1s through 9s
• The Alternative Learning Track: learning addition and subtraction facts in families
• 5. Fact Families (+, -) to 10
• Optional Learning Track

If you notice a student is taking more than a week to pass a level in sets A-Z of Addition 1s through 9s, that’s a sign for you to intervene. Often this means that the child is struggling and needs to practice more. They need to logon and practice at home in addition to their practice in school. The first graders who can finish the Learning Track for Addition 1s though 9s, can move on to the Optional Learning Track, Add to 20. Advanced first graders who are very quickly mastering facts can certainly move into the Learning Tracks recommended below for 2nd grade.

There is an alternative sequence of learning addition and subtraction facts, through Fact Families.  Fact Families introduces addition and subtraction facts at the same time in “families” such as 1+3, 3+1, 4-3, 4-1. Because the facts are introduced in families students are able to switch back and forth between addition and subtraction as they are learning. Rocket Math breaks up the fact families into a Learning Track with addition and subtraction facts up to 10 to begin in first grade and then a second Learning Track of facts from 11 that follows after, either in first grade or second.

## Subtraction Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

Many teachers think subtraction facts are harder for children to learn.The reason they seem harder to learn is that most children don’t fully master addition before they start memorizing subtraction facts. When that happens, the two operations interfere with one another (officially, it’s known as proactive and retroactive inhibition), and subtraction facts become harder to learn.

Students who work through the addition sets in Rocket Math Online Game, will not find this to be a problem. Once the student has mastered the addition facts, they will quickly recognize that subtraction facts are “the opposite” of addition. The interference does not happen, and the students will feel good about their progress and learn to do computation with ease.

Rocket Math Online Game offers these Learning Tracks for second graders to master subtraction:

• The Basic Learning Tracks
• 1. Addition 1s through 9s
• 2. Subtraction 1s through 9s
• The Alternative Learning Tracks: learning addition and subtraction facts in families
• 5. Fact Families (+, -) to 10
• 6. Fact Families (+, -) from 11
• Optional Learning Tracks
• 8. Subtract from 20

Second graders who did not learn addition Math Facts in first grade must focus on addition facts first. After they have gotten through Set Z of addition, they can move on to 2. Subtraction 1s through 9s.

Second-grade students who complete addition and subtraction 1s-9s can start Add to 20 and then go on to Subtracting from 20.

As noted above,  learning by fact families is an alternative route to learning basic addition and subtraction facts.  The first Learning Track would be #5 Fact Families (+, -) to 10 followed by #6 Fact Families (+, -) from 11.

## Multiplication Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

Being able to multiply is harder than addition or subtraction because you can’t count on your fingers. While it is necessary for students to memorize the “times facts,” they are seldom systematically taught. Preservice teachers are frequently taught that “rote learning is bad for children.” This is not true, but as a result, most new teachers have no idea how to effectively help their students memorize. Memorizing basic facts is a necessary step (to free up working memory) on the path to higher-order thinking in math, and by skipping math fact memorization, teachers are handicapping their students.

Rocket Math Online Game offers these Learning Tracks for third graders to master multiplication:

• The Basic Learning Tracks
• 3. Multiplication 1s through 9s (priority)
• 1. Addition 1s through 9s (if still not mastered)
• 2. Subtraction 1s through 9s (if still not mastered)
• The Alternative Learning Track: learning multiplication and division facts in families
• 11. Fact Families (x,÷) to 20
• Optional Learning Track
• 9. Multiplication 10s-11s-12s

In third grade, multiplication has priority, and students must master it first even if they have not mastered addition and subtraction. Higher-level math students who may not have mastered addition and subtraction will only be crippled more without learning multiplication. Once the student has mastered multiplication, then go back and work on mastering addition and subtraction. When students have mastered all three of these basic operations, they can move on to 9. Multiplication 10s-11s-12s. And of course, advanced third graders who have learned the concept of division can move into the Learning Tracks recommended below for fourth grade students.

There is an alternative sequence of learning multiplication and division facts, through Fact Families.  Fact Families introduces multiplication and division facts at the same time in “families” such as 4×5, 5×4, 20÷4, 20÷5. Because the facts are introduced in families students are able to switch back and forth between multiplication and division as they are learning.  Rocket Math breaks up the multiplication and division fact families into facts up to 20 to begin in third grade and then a second Learning Track of facts from 20 follows after, either in third grade or fourth.

## Division Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

The key to learning division facts is to learn them gradually. Students should work a few minutes at a time and then take a break. Rocket Math Online Game has students work for five minutes at a time (although the teacher can increase it to 10 or 15 minutes if the student wants it), and then the game pauses for a 20-minute break. Breaks will help keep students from becoming tired of the game and ensure they want to keep playing. Learning Math Facts is a marathon, not a sprint, so we want them to do Rocket Math once or twice a day for a few months. That’s how they will come to master the math facts.

Typically, students learn division in fourth or fifth grade, but they can learn it earlier if they understand the concept. Division isn’t harder than multiplication, but it will be if students have not mastered multiplication first. That’s why having students work through Set Z of multiplication before starting division is essential.

Here are the Learning Tracks offered by Rocket Math Online Game:

• The Basic Learning Tracks
• 3. Multiplication 1s through 9s (priority)
• 4. Division 1s through 9s (secondary priority)
• The Alternative Learning Tracks: learning multiplication and division facts in families
• 11. Fact Families (x,÷) to 20
• 12. Fact Families (x,÷) from 21
• Optional Learning Tracks
• 9. Multiplication 10s-11s-12s
• 10. Division 10s-11s-12s

When they have mastered multiplication and the 1s-9s of division, students can go on to Multiplication 10s-11s-12s and Division 10s-11s-12s.

As noted above, learning by fact families is an alternative route to learning basic multiplication and division facts.  The first Learning Track would be #11 Fact Families (x,÷) to 20 followed by #12 Fact Families (x,÷) from 21.

## Rocket Math Online Game – The Best Tool to Learn Math Facts

Mastering the basic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division will not only help students succeed in school, but are essential skills to have outside of the classroom. If you want your students to be successful at math and enjoy learning, memorizing these math facts is vital. With Rocket Math Online Game, your students will be engaged and excited to play. Students will be able to see their progress, celebrate their wins, and take pride in what they learn. It doesn’t take much to motivate your students, just a sincere recognition of their achievement. They will know when they have accomplished something, and if you recognize it as well, then they will feel proud of themselves.

There’s a free two-week trial of the Rocket Math Online Game so you can see for yourself how well it works and how students love it.

## Use Rocket Math Worksheet Program or Online Tutor or both for math fact fluency?

Rocket Math now has added an Online Tutor to its tried-and-true Worksheet Program.  Customers ask, “Which should I use?  Should I use both?”

Dr. Don’s answer is “Yes, I do recommend using both.  As that opinion may appear self-serving, here’s why.”

## 1) Online Tutor is an easier route to math fact fluency.

Most students begin passing levels in the Online Tutor right away.  They find it quicker and easier and can sometimes pass more than one level in a day.  This gives the students a taste of success.  The Online Tutor helps them realize they can learn facts and make progress almost from the first day.  Students are then more willing to do the Worksheet Program as well.  Rarely, there are a few younger students who cannot input answers within 3 seconds.  They won’t be able to pass levels and will have to start over many times on the Online Tutor.  When monitoring them in the Online Tutor, such students will have difficulty scores over 3.  If that’s the case, the Worksheet Program is more flexible, and they may prefer that.  But for most students with difficulty scores below 2 in the Online Tutor, they will require a lot less practice to pass levels with the Online Tutor than in the Worksheet Program. That means it will be easier and quicker to learn the facts.

## 2) The Online Tutor is easier for teachers to implement.

The Online Tutor is easier for teachers to get started using.  Teachers don’t have to print out worksheets, maintain files or organize student pairs, or manage their practice.  It is, therefore, easier to implement.  Less than enthusiastic teachers, who might not start the worksheets, will at least start doing the Online Tutor. After they see the success of the Online Tutor and the students’ enthusiasm, they will be more willing to do the Worksheet Program.

## 3) The Online Tutor provides consistent quality of practice.

The Worksheet Program is dependent upon the quality of practice in each classroom. Quality of practice is dependent upon the skill of the teacher in teaching routines and getting compliance from the students in following procedures. Therefore, the quality of learning varies, whereas with the Online Tutor the quality of practice is consistent.  I have had teachers report that they are seeing, in daily lessons, better fluency in facts than they saw previously with the Worksheet Program.  The teachers who say that, are telling me they did not get students to practice well in their classroom.  With less skilled teachers the Online Tutor is definitely better.  The only variable with the Online Tutor is whether teachers give students the time to practice and if they can effectively assign homework.  Both of those are issues with the Worksheet Program as well.

## 4) The Online Tutor checks every single fact for speed of response.

The Worksheet Program bases individual goals upon writing speed, so we are basically demanding that students write answers to math facts as fast as they can.  That’s a high bar and requires a lot of practice.  The bar is not as high with the Online Tutor–as everyone has the same 3 second expectation for a one digit answer, and 4 seconds for a two digit answer. If students are using a touch screen and are 8 years old, that’s not as demanding as it could be. That’s why they go through the levels faster. However, every single fact is checked for time, which we can’t do with the Worksheet Program. Because the Online Tutor checks the speed of response to every single fact, it’s more rigorous that way.

## 5) The Online Tutor is easier for parents to support.

Both Worksheet Program and Online Tutor can (and should!) be done at home.  The Worksheet Program’s homework component is for students to bring home the worksheet they tested that day and practice with a parent or sibling, the same way they practiced in school.  That takes someone’s time.  The Online Tutor only requires access to a device (Rocket Math works well on parents’ phones!), and once the student logs in, the computer does the correcting and rewarding.  The Online Tutor is easier for parents to support and gets a foot in the door.  Once they see their child’s success and enthusiasm, parents are more willing to do the Worksheet Program. Which will provide more and better learning.

## 6) Worksheet Program has higher demands for math fact fluency.

Compared to the Online Tutor, the Worksheet Program is a bit harder to pass a level.  By basing individual goals on the Writing Speed Test, we can be sure that students are answering a large number of facts as fast as they can write. This is a high bar. Generally, we see that students have to practice with their partners more time before they pass they pass a level, so students learn facts better with it. They are more solid in their knowledge of facts when they are done with an operation like multiplication in the Worksheet Program than they are if they just run through multiplication in the Online Tutor.  This is a reason not to do the Online Tutor only.  Of course, students are even stronger in their facts when they practice with both.

## 7) Saying the facts aloud in the Worksheet Program develops an important learning channel.

The purpose of learning math facts is to make it easier for students to learn and do basic computation. The Worksheet program develops verbal memory for facts.   In the Worksheet Program students practice by saying the facts aloud along with the answer, without hesitation.  For example, “Nine times seven is sixty-three.”  Repeating these over and over day after day, creates a verbal chain in memory. Because of this verbal chain, once the fact is learned, forever after, when saying the fact to oneself, “Nine times seven is….” the answer, “Sixty-three,” pops into mind, unbidden.  That’s automaticity and that’s the goal.  This is another channel other than what is developed in the Online Tutor.

## 8) Writing the facts daily in the Worksheet Program will generalize to written computation more readily.

Math work is written, so the Worksheet Program (which is also written) is closer to how math facts will be used.  Each day students get into the habit of doing math as quickly as they can.  They develop the expectation that they should do math quickly.  That means this program will generalize better to computation assignments.  It will take longer to pass a Learning Track, but when they are done, you will see a bigger benefit to students doing math assignments when they finish the Worksheet Program than with the Online Tutor.  Which is yet another reason to do both programs.

## 9) The Worksheet Program provides computation practice to maintain fluency.

After students learn the facts, the most important thing is to provide students with practice using the facts in computation.  Many of today’s math programs have very little to no computation practice built into the program.  The Rocket Math Worksheet Program has learning tracks that provide short 3-minute daily practice assignments in computation.  The Learning Computation tracks have assessment so students can be placed at the right level and can gradually improve their computation skills as well as cement in those math facts so they can maintain fluency.

## 10) Using both the Worksheet Program & Online Tutor develops math fact fluency twice.

Because students are moving through the two programs at different rates, they will get two passes at learning the facts.  That means they are getting twice as much learning.  The facts will be known better and more readily called to mind during computation when both programs are used.

## The Ultimate Math Facts Test Online for Kids

You’re probably looking for a math facts test online to evaluate how well your students are learning their math facts. But did you know, it’s more effective to teach and test at the same time? Rocket Math’s online game does exactly that, making it the ultimate math fact online testing app.

## Testing without teaching doesn’t work

Too many math facts tests online spend a lot of time asking students facts they don’t know. As a result, students learn inefficient ways to solve math fact problems, like counting on their fingers.  Even puzzling out answers from knowing doubles is tedious. Students will find memorization of math facts difficult if they constantly have to “figure out” math facts. Plus these two methods are slow, setting students up to fail timed math fact tests in class.

So what is the best way to test whether a student can recall math facts?

## Teach and test a small number of math facts in tandem

An effective math facts test online will start teaching as soon as the test finds the first math fact that the student can’t answer quickly.

It is important to begin teaching immediately for several reasons.

(1) Students think that they will always have to compute math facts on their fingers or with a number line.  They don’t know that they can and should get to a point where they instantly recall the answers to facts.  Helping students memorize a previously unlearned math fact immediately after they miss the problem shows them that they can successfully master any fact.

(2) Students need to know that we do NOT want them endlessly figuring out math facts.  By responding immediately with teaching, we send the message, “Hey, you didn’t know this fact instantly.  That’s not what we want.  Let’s practice this one, right now, so you can learn it.”  Requiring the student to answer the fact again faster reinforces the message.

(3) Teaching a fact works best when the fact is surrounded by facts the student already knows. Therefore, the best time to teach is when a student meets the first math fact they can’t instantly recall. An effective test online will mix the unrecallable math fact with a sea of already mastered material, teach the math fact, and then test it again.

(4) The student learns the difference between memorized and unmemorized facts. This helps the student understand that the goal is to instantly recall that fact.

(5) With a combined teaching and testing approach, a student’s success rate will be high since the student primarily answers facts they already know. As a result, students are motivated to learn more math facts.

## Why testing and teaching is the perfect learning paradigm

If your teaching program works carefully in sequence, students will encounter opportunities to practice facts they know (a good thing!).  Gradually, new facts will be introduced, practiced and tested. That is the perfect recipe for successful learning.  Over time, students will be able to master all the facts as the program works through its sequence.  Now you have accomplished the end goal: for students to learn the facts they didn’t know.  By testing and teaching as you go, students remain encouraged, learn the difference between problem-solving and memorization, and reach mastery.

## Rocket Math game: the ultimate math fact test online

The picture to the right shows me watching the very first kid try out the Rocket Math online game.  As soon as he saw math problems, he said, “I don’t really like math that much.”  But he saw the problem on the screen was 3 + 1 =, so he just typed in 4 because he knew the answer.  Then he saw 2 + 1 = and he says, “Well I know that,” and he typed in that answer.  The reverses (1 + 3 and 1 + 2) came up and he could answer those.  The online math app only introduced those two math facts and their reverses, but he had to answer twelve in a row to pass the test.

Over time, he became faster.  He answered all twelve math facts and received an on-screen congratulations. Mission Control (a fictional character in the math app) told him that he had “taken off with Set A” and could, “try for orbit” if he dared! After finishing the round, he brought the tablet over to me and said he liked it and wanted to play it again as soon as the mandatory 30-minute break was over.

Not only did the Rocket Math app teach and test four math facts in 5 minutes, but the student wanted to continue practicing math facts. That’s the beauty of a combined teaching and testing approach. Kind of a big deal, eh?

## Just doing math is not enough to develop math fact fluency.

If you want to help your kid succeed in golf, you must first help them develop a good drive. Before they can successfully go out and play a game of golf, they will have to spend some time on the driving range. Right? The same thing goes for math. To help your kid succeed in math, you must first help them develop math fact fluency. Math facts are single-digit problems like 5 +9 or 6 x 8. The times tables are math facts in multiplication. Math facts are the fundamental units of all math problems. They are the drivers, if you will, of doing math. Children who struggle to remember basic math facts will find learning math and doing math difficult. We know what that looks like, right? On the other hand, students who can easily answer all math facts, who can answer math facts with fluency, find math a breeze and are successful and confident in math. Math fact apps can be a great way to help with learning math facts and improving math fact fluency.

## Not all math apps build math fact fluency.

There are a lot of apps out there that look like they would help your child learn math fact fluency. If they have to answer math facts, won’t that work? Not really. Just playing a game that asks you to answer facts won’t help you learn new facts. In fact, most apps for practicing facts discourage students who don’t know their facts well. Why? Because most of the people designing the app don’t have any experience teaching or knowledge of instructional design. A teacher with expertise in instructional design, like the Rocket Math Online Game App creator, knows how to effectively teach a student new math facts (or any facts) and knows an effective math app from an ineffective one.

## Three essential features of an effective math fact app.

There are plenty of ineffective math apps. Some apps don’t give the answers when a student doesn’t know them. Some apps just fill in the answer for the student and then move on. When the student doesn’t know the answer, the app has to teach it. To teach a math fact that the student doesn’t know, the app has to do these three things:

1. Tell the problem and the answer to the student, if needed.
2. Ask the student to give the correct answer to the problem from memory.
3. After a short delay, ask the problem again a couple of times, to be sure the student can remember the answer.

The key job in developing math fact fluency is learning new facts. By doing these three things, the app will be able to teach the student new facts, and the student will develop fluency beyond what they already have.

## An effective math app will only teach a few math facts at a time.

Math facts are all very similar, which is what makes them hard to remember. No one can learn a bunch of new and similar things all at the same time. A person can only learn two, three, or four facts at a time, and you cannot expect to learn more at one time. That’s enough for one session. The student has to practice those facts a lot of times to commit them to memory. Once or twice is not enough. It also won’t help to practice the same fact over and over. Proper math fact fluency practice intermingles new math facts along with facts the learner has already memorized. No more than two to four facts should be introduced at a time. If a student has to answer a lot of random untaught math facts, you will have a very frustrated learner.

## How to build math fact fluency by practicing

Some students learn to solve addition problems by counting on their fingers. That’s a good beginner strategy, but students need to get past that stage. They need to be able to simply and quickly recall the answers to math facts. An app is good for developing recall. But the app has to ask students to answer the facts quickly, faster than they can count on their fingers. The app has to distinguish when a student recalls the fact (which is quick) from figuring out the fact (which is slow). Second, the app must repeatedly ask the learned facts in a random order, so students recall them. But the app should only throw in new facts once all the facts are mastered and can be answered quickly.

## Introduce new facts only when old facts are mastered!

The trick to effectively teaching math facts is to introduce new math facts at an appropriate pace. If you wait too long to introduce math facts, it gets boring and wastes time. If you go too fast, students become confused. Before introducing new facts, students need to master everything you’ve given them. An effective app will test whether students have mastered the current batch of math facts before introducing more facts. And it will also introduce math facts at a pace based on student mastery. That’s the final piece of the puzzle to ensure students learn math facts from an app.

## Rocket Math Online Game App–try it for 30 days for free

You probably guessed that we know of an app that meets all these criteria, the Rocket Math Online Game. It is like a driving range for math–it will develop math fact fluency. But don’t take our word for it. Try it for free for 30 days. If your child or students use it daily for 30 days, you’ll know they are learning and becoming more fluent with math facts. Keep it going, and they will become confident and successful in math. And that’s the point, isn’t it?

*The Rocket Math Online Game App focuses on two facts and their reverses at a time, such as 3+4=7, 4+3=7, 3+5=8 and 5+3=8.

## Why Multiplication Games Are Awful & What to Do About It

As a university supervisor of pre-service teachers, I’ve seen my share of bad lessons.  Among the most painful were when student teachers would try to liven up their lessons to impress me by having the students do a math game.  My student teachers wanted their students to learn math facts and to do so in a fun way.  The picture above is typical of what I would see.  Here are the reasons that most multiplication games that the student teachers implemented were awful.

(For multiplication games that work in and out of the classroom, check out Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program and Online Game.)

## Waiting for your turn at a multiplication game is not learning!

As you can see in the picture above, all but one of the students are just waiting for their turn.  They aren’t doing math.  The students are just watching the student who is playing.  No one likes waiting, and your students are no exception.  Any game that has turn-taking among more than two students wastes time.

Make sure your multiplication games are structured so all or most students are engaged and playing all the time.  You want students to have as much engaging practice as possible while practicing math facts at speed.  If everyone can be doing that at the same time, that’s optimal.  No more than two students should be taking turns at a time.

## A multiplication game that allows using a known strategy to figure out facts (like finger counting) is not learning!

Learning math facts involves memorizing these facts so that students know them by memory, by recall.  Committing facts to memory is why there is a need for lots of practice.  If the game allows time for students to count on their fingers or use some other strategy for figuring out the answer to facts, then there is no incentive for students to get better.

In the lower left corner of the picture you can see one student counting on their fingers—which is better than just watching—but is not learning the facts, it is just figuring them out.  The most able students in an elementary school are able to memorize facts on their own when they tire of figuring them out day in and day out.  But the rest of the students will just do their work patiently year after year without memorizing if you don’t create the conditions for them to memorize facts.

Make sure that your multiplication games reward remembering facts quickly rather than just figuring them out.  Speed should be the main factor after accuracy.  Fast-paced games are more fun and the point should be that the more facts you learn the better you’ll do.

## Multiplication games that randomly present ALL the facts make learning impossible.

It is a basic fact of learning that no one can memorize a bunch of similar things all at once.  To memorize information, like math facts, the learner must work on a few, two to four facts, at a time.  With sufficient practice, every learner can memorize a small number of math facts. Once learners master a set of math facts, they can learn another batch.  But if a whole lot are presented all at once, it is impossible for the learner to memorize them.

Make sure your multiplication games are structured so that each student is presented with only facts they know.  A good game presents only a few facts at a time.  As students learn some of the math facts, more can be added, but at a pace that allows the learner to keep up.  The optimal learning conditions are for the learner to have a few things to learn in a sea of already mastered material.

## Rocket Math Multiplication Games

We designed Rocket Math games to help kids gradually (and successfully) master math skills. Students use Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program to practice with partners, then take timings. Students can also individually develop math fact fluency—from any device, anywhere, any time of day—with Rocket Math’s Online Game.

## Four star rating for Rocket Math Apps

### Rocket Math App received 4 Stars!

App Names: Rocket Math Add at Home, Add at School, Multiply at Home, and Multiply at School

Developer’s name: Rocket Math, LLC

Primary School Apps (5-7 Years)

## Educational App Store Review

Rocket Math is an offshoot of an existing programme for schools designed to increase children’s speed and fluency in answering simple arithmetic. This app encourages frequent short sessions and is supported by plenty of information explaining its purpose and methods.

The purpose of Rocket Math is to build what its developer terms “automaticity” in arithmetic. A fluent reader does not need to decode simple and frequently encountered words letter by letter. The same can be true for frequently encountered arithmetic.

When automaticity is achieved in arithmetic the answers are available in an instant. The advantages of this, beyond speed, are that it leaves more of the person’s mental processes available for other aspects of the problem. If a person does not have to think about achieving simple arithmetic answers, he or she can concentrate on the more complex and lengthier aspects of a problem.

Rocket Math the app follows on from a well-established programme of the same name based on traditional written resources. Repeat practice and a steady increase in the breadth of the covered arithmetic are at the heart of its methods.

Children are taken through a series of stages in which they are faced with a rapid succession of arithmetic questions. Remember, the purpose of this app is to build fluency in frequently encountered arithmetic problems, not complex ones. As such, the questions will be simple ones and, at first, until the breadth expands, there will be little variation in them. Only three seconds is allowed per question so, for some children, developing enough fluency to progress will be difficult but others will thrive on the challenge.

Answers are given by typing them onto a built-in number pad. The app is simple to use and looks attractive. Its space-travel styling and theme add a game-like feel although it is not a game. Speech provides a response to incorrect answers and provides encouragement between levels. It all works very well and provides the exact type of practice that it promises.

An unusual but useful feature is that the app enforces its little-and-often recommendations by insisting on a thirty-minute break after 5 minutes of play. As multiple sessions are likely to yield better results than a single, marathon session, this is an excellent feature that will prevent children from relying on a last-minute catch-up rather than a steady engagement with the app. This, combined with a useful breakdown of each child’s performance in the student report screen, provides reassurance to adults that their children are making the best possible use of the app.

A family of apps is available and potential buyers should think about which they need. Two of the apps cover addition and subtraction and two cover multiplication and division. Your choice here is obviously dependent on what aspect you would like to cover.

The remaining choice is between a school and a home version. They are identical in functionality except that the home version is free to download with a lengthy trial period. The school version has a flat, one-off, fee. Prospective teachers would still be wise to download the home version first so that they can appraise the app’s suitability.

If they choose to utilise the app within their school then buying the school version will be a simpler process than the in-app purchase of the home version. It will also allow schools to utilise the volume purchasing programme whereby they can receive a discount for buying twenty or more of the same app.

Parents will be pleased to see that the app caters for up to three children. As each child engages with the app, parents can check to see how they are performing and offer help, encouragement or rewards as they see fit.   Some useful background information on the app’s purposes and usage are provided within the app itself and a more comprehensive overview of the Rocket Math ethos is available on the developer’s website.

All of the Rocket Math apps provide a learning opportunity that is tightly focused on realising their goal of improving children’s arithmetic fluency. As such, if this is a goal that you also share, you will find them good value and useful apps.