Just the Facts: Fun with Fact Families!

Hey friends!

I feel like a bit of a slacker this week. I haven’t created any new products, and it took me all week to write this blog post. The reason why? I got some kind of awful cold bug. I thought it was possibly the flu, but after a few days of feeling icky, I’ve concluded it’s just a really nasty cold.

Anywho, I’m starting to feel a bit better and am going to (most likely) be able to stay up past 7pm tonight. Yay! So I thought I’d share one of my favorite things with you.

Last week I posted about mystery number subtraction and my cute Hungry Bill project.

Well, this week we’ve moved onto one of my all time favorite math topics: Fact Families!

I love adore fact families because once students “get it” they can easily relate addition to subtraction and angels begin to sing! (Oh, is that just in my head? ;))

When I teach fact families, I introduce it by writing three number in a fact family such as 7,3, and 10. I explain that we’re going to be learning about fact families and in fact families there are three people: a daddy, a mama, and a baby. I ask my students to guess which number is the daddy. They *always* get it right. I ask them why and they always answer “because he’s the biggest”.


Next I ask who the baby is. They also always get it correct “3 because it’s the smallest” Yes! Finally, they tell me that the 7 is the mama because it’s in the middle.

I then draw a fact family template like this:





I explain that the daddy always go in first to make sure it’s safe for the mama and the baby. The daddy goes at the end when we add and the beginning when we subtract. We also discuss WHY (when you add the sum is the biggest number and when you subtract the first number is the biggest number).





Then I remind them of the flip flop rule and I explain that it doesn’t matter what order we put the mama and baby in the first addition sentence, we just have to make sure we flip flop it the second time. Also, we do the same thing in our subtraction sentences.





Now here’s where it gets fun. I’ll pick 5 students to come up to the front of the room. One student holds a plus sign, one student holds an equal sign, and I give the other 3 students number cards with fact family numbers. They get to move around to make each addition and subtraction sentence and then we’ll write it on the white board. I always make sure every student gets a turn. This is one of their favorite games, and actually moving with the numbers helps them understand the concept.

We also always make fact families houses. They’re super cute and super fun! Here’s what the finished product looks like! They make a great bulletin board as well. Click the picture to purchase the template from my teacherspayteachers store.




fact family house picture




This year I also wrote a fact family song to help my students remember where to put the daddy. It’s included in the above template, but you can also click the picture below to download it for free.

Fact Family Rap

I’ve gotten lots of requests for how to rap this song, so here you go!

So, that’s the facts about fact families! I’m starting to feel better, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to my normal amount of posts next week. 🙂

Martha from Primary Paradise

How do you teach fact families? Post about it in a comment below!

Primary Paradise

Primary Paradise

I have always had a passion for teaching and sharing with others and look forward to sharing my ideas with you!


  • practicemakesperfectalmost
    January 25, 2013 8:03 pm

    It must be that time of the year in the first grade curriculum. I’m teaching fact families now, too. I do something similar, but I put all the numbers in a house on the board. Then we write out the fact family template like you do. We talk about when we add the number that is biggest is last, but when we subtract, the biggest number is first. Then we use cubes to demonstrate the addition and subtraction facts in the fact family. After that, I put other numbers outside the house, trying to get in, but the kids don’t want to let those other numbers in because thre not in the family!

    I like your idea of giving kids the numbers to hold and move around. Anytime they can get up and move, it’s a good thing!

    Glad you’re feeling better.

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      January 26, 2013 7:09 am

      I love, love, love putting other numbers outside, but not letting them in! We also talk about how you can’t just pick any numbers, and that they have to “make sense”. We make sure to check them as well. Thanks so much for sharing. I will definitely be doing that next year! 🙂

  • Emily
    July 7, 2013 2:31 pm

    As a parent of a first grader entering second grade, thank you! We don’t remember ever being taught math in this way and your blog post explained it wonderfully. Thanks again.

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      July 7, 2013 6:08 pm

      You are so welcome! 🙂 Keep checking back for new, fun ideas!

  • Lili
    July 14, 2013 1:14 pm

    I downloaded all of your fact family activities and found them very helpful. Is there a tune to follow for the rap? Thanks!

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      July 15, 2013 1:39 am

      So glad you liked them! I just say it in rhythm with my kiddos. 🙂

  • Carly
    October 29, 2013 6:13 pm

    Love your rap. I am a student teacher and plan to use the rap as a launch to the lesson. I will be singing to my first graders of course. 🙂 I also plan to use your movement activity. So clever!! THANKS A BUNCH FOR POSTING!!

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      October 29, 2013 7:12 pm

      You’re very welcome. Best of luck!

  • Nicole
    May 4, 2014 12:53 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your recent information on fact families. I have spent days trying to explain this concept to my first grader with no luck. I tried using your daddy, mommy and baby concept and he got it immediately! I look forward to seeing more of your great ideas. Thanks again!

  • Mehak
    March 10, 2015 5:36 pm

    Thank you very much for giving us a very simple exampl of fact family,I m very happy my daughter is expert know in fact family after explaining fact family through this example

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      March 26, 2015 1:03 pm

      You’re very welcome! Go her!

  • Leeanne
    May 12, 2015 8:03 am

    Would love to see / hear how you sing the rap. Thanks

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      May 18, 2015 1:13 pm

      Just added a video to the post. 🙂

  • Jeanine Fennal
    January 8, 2016 11:32 pm

    Oh my goodness!!!! I’m teaching fact families now and I still have a few of my babies who haven’t really owned it. I related it to the three bears from the Goldilocks and the Three Bears!!!!

    We’re talking Fact Families Over Here
    We’re talking Fact Families with the Three Bears
    Mommy Bear in the Middle, Baby Bear is the smallest
    Daddy Bear is the biggest, the strongest, and the tallest
    In ADDITION FACTS Daddy Bear is at the end
    With SUBTRACTION FACTS Daddy Bear (insert a pause)
    Mommy and Baby can be switched around.
    They don’t complain about it. They don’t make a sound.

    • Primary Paradise
      Primary Paradise
      March 3, 2016 4:17 pm

      That’s adorable! I love it! 🙂

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