Addition and Subtraction

Powerful Strategies for Teaching Number Facts

Auri was a precocious 9-year-old who would often struggle with math. Auri’s teacher, Mrs. Farmer, noticed that she would grow tired and get easily frustrated when trying to mentally solve even some of the simplest problems. The good news was that Mrs. Farmer was an expert teacher and knew how to help Auri move from inefficient methods to effective thinking strategies for teaching number facts. Mrs. Farmer used the ORIGO approach to teaching number fact skills.

The ORIGO approach to teaching number facts for elementary mental computation

This article is the first in a series on how to teach number facts with ease. With ORIGO’s approach, students master skills over time as they engage in four distinctly different types of activities. Click on the video below to see a short clip on the ORIGO approach to teaching number fact skills.


Introducing the ORIGO model for teaching skills from ORIGO Education on Vimeo.

number facts - introduce, reinforce, practice, extend

Number Facts Stage #1: Introduce

In the first stage, students are introduced to the skill using contextual situations, concrete materials, and pictorial representations to help them make sense of the mathematics. For example, the make-ten thinking strategy shown below, helps students rearrange quantities in helpful ways.

number facts - introducing new strategies visual

Number Facts Stage #2: Reinforce

In the second stage, the concept or skill is reinforced through activities or games. This stage provides students the opportunity to understand the concepts and skills as it connects the concrete and pictorial models of the introductory stage to the abstract symbols of the practice stage.

Number Facts Stage #3: Practice

When students are confident with the concept or skill, they move to the third stage where visual models are no longer used. This stage develops accuracy and speed of recall. Written and oral activities are used to practice the skill to develop fluency.

Number Facts Stage #4: Extend

Finally, as the name suggests, students extend their understanding of the concept or skill in the last stage. For example, the make-ten strategy can be extended beyond the number fact range to include computation with greater whole numbers and eventually to decimal fractions.

number facts stage 4 - extend

Auri’s progress

Mrs. Farmer carefully designing activities and games to engage students in the powerful thinking strategies that are part if this series of articles. As a result, Auri began to thrive in her ability to think about numbers differently as shown in the clip below.


Auri 45+19 from ORIGO Education on Vimeo.

Join us on a journey on how to teach number facts with ease! Check out our other posts in the series:

Think Multiplication Strategy: division facts

Count On Strategy: addition facts

About ORIGO Education

ORIGO Education is dedicated to making learning meaningful, enjoyable and accessible for all students with Pre-K and Elementary print and digital instructional materials, as well as professional learning for mathematics.

Debi De Paul Origo

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Debi DePaul

ORIGO Education

ORIGO Education has partnered with educators for over 25 years to make math learning meaningful, enjoyable and accessible to all.

About The ORIGO Approach
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