One academic area that suffers during summer is math. The facts are easily forgotten if they are not practiced a little during the summer. Rote memory doesn’t guarantee retention. There are a few things that have helped my students not only remember their facts, but retain them well into their 30’s.

Memory joggers stimulate the right side of the brain and the stories create a long lasting memory of basic math facts.

If students have struggled with addition and subtraction facts it could be due to the fact that they were introduced to the abstract concept. To help my third grade students gain math confidence they did a few activities that built a concrete memory of facts and resulted in the students deducing the properties of multiplication without formal instruction.

The first activity uses unit cubes and graph paper for recording their observations.

- They are given one unit and experiment to find the ways that the cube can be arranged. Of course, one unit can only be done as a 1 by 1 drawing. Because it forms a square, we call it a square number. The students quickly identify the square numbers. Many high schoolers relied on rote memory of square numbers and prime numbers until I did this activity with them
- They are given another cube and will discover they can put them in one row of two or a 1 by 2 shape and 2 rows of one in each row or a 2 by 1 shape.
- They add another cube and continue finding the number of rows and columns the units can be arranged while recording them on paper. They continue this process until they begin to make deductions. Many students have utilized as many as 56 units.
- They begin to see the identity property, associative property, and commutative property. They see that even numbers can always be done in two rows and most odd numbers can only be done by one row or column, that is until they get to the numbers 9, 21, 25, 27, 33, 35, 39, etc
- Later we go back and show how to write their drawings in an equation.

They Memory Joggers are available on this site. They are the single most efficient way I have discovered over the years that yields the best results.

The Companion Book to Memory Joggers offers teachers and parents another way to present addition and subtraction to their children so it makes sense. I even created a game to help children understand regrouping that was very impactful and cements the subtraction with regrouping methods.

Do you have any strategies to share that your children have found successful? Please share below.