Fact Families: Addition/Subtraction, Multiplication/Division

by Laurie Laurendeau on October 18, 2011

You may very well have heard about Fact Families through your child’s schoolwork, but just what exactly is a fact family?  A fact family is a group of facts that are related to one another, just like a human family.  There are Addition/Subtraction fact families, as well as Multiplication/Division fact families.

A fact family is usually made up of 4 different facts: 2 addition facts, and 2 subtraction facts (or 2 multiplication and 2 division facts).  For example, the following facts are in the same fact family:





Why are Fact Families important?

We teach children about fact families so they understand the relationship between opposite operations.  That is, we want them to see how Addition and Subtraction are related, and how Multiplication and Division are related.  Some Math Fact programs teach the Addition and Subtraction facts together using fact families, while other programs teach all the Addition facts first, then the Subtraction facts. Giggle Facts, our Math Facts program, teaches all the Addition Facts through a variety of games, then bridges Addition and Subtraction with fact families, and finally moves on to all the Subtraction Facts.


You may have seen some oddly-shaped fact flashcards that are in the form of triangles.  The reason for the triangular shape (other than the obvious “cool” factor for kids!) is that they are organized by fact families.  For example, if you picture a triangle with the pointy part upwards, the largest number would be printed at the top (the number 6 from the example above).  The other two numbers (the 2 and 4 from the above example) would each be printed in one of the other 2 corners of the triangle.  If you wish to work on Addition facts with your child, you would simply cover up the number at the top of the triangle, and you are looking at the Addition fact.  If you would like to work on the Subtraction facts, you would cover up one of the numbers at the bottom of the triangle.

I would love to hear from my readers!  Please feel free to post a comment or question…who knows… maybe it will inspire another blog idea!


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