Curriculum Review: Mastering the Basic Math Facts

“Students who simply memorize math facts miss a prime opportunity to expand their understanding of equations. Problem solving is the central focus in today’s math classrooms. To be a successful problem solver, students must be able to accurately compute answers, but more than that, they must be able to figure out how to build equations that correspond to problem situations.” – Susan O’Connell and John SanGiovanni. 

My two new favorite elementary math homeschooling resources are Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Addition and Subtraction  & Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Multiplication and Division.  Both books are by Susan O’Connell and John SanGiovanni .    Two simple books jam-packed full of resources to help your student move beyond simple rote memorization and into an understanding of number relationships and how to use those relationships in math problem solving.


What I enjoy most about both books is that they move far beyond pen and pencil drill sheet practice.  In the addition and subtraction book, each chapter focuses on a specific set of addition facts.  Within the chapter you are given ways to help your student see the “big ideas” of that set of facts, activities to do to explore the facts and targeted practice work. Lots of fun games and practice work ideas are given that meet a variety of learning styles.   The addition facts are then connected to their related subtraction facts to complete the picture.  The same process is used with multiplication and division.

There is a literature link for each set of facts.  The literature link is a fun way to introduce a math concept using a picture book.  I was able to find videos of almost all of the picture books being read aloud on online.  The books are also easily found at your local library.  Mastering Basic Math Facts includes guidance in how to connect the featured literature to the facts as well as math activities based on the picture books to help your child make math connections with other ideas that they know and understand.

The VERY BEST feature of these two books is that the purchase of these books includes a link to 350+ pages of downloadable resources to accompany the book!  Each game, worksheet and literature activity mentioned is a pdf printable in English or Spanish.  The resources are organized by chapter so it is easy to print what you need for the day.  mbmfmd

Although the book is meant for a classroom setting, I have found it totally accessible for a homeschool parent.   I have worked through the Addition and Subtraction book with my student and look forward to completing the Multiplication and Division book.   The math games are fun and don’t require much effort to put them together.   The targeted practice activities were engaging, and I appreciated the higher-level thinking skills that the thought questions require.

This is a valuable book if you are looking to strengthen your student’s basic math fact skills or introducing math facts for the very first time.  If you have a hands-on learner or a very visual student, this book will help meet their needs. Parents of special needs students will the strategies included  This book also makes for great summer math practice with low prep for the parent.  The table of contents, a sample chapter and a free downloadable sample of each book is available at the publisher’s website. 







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