I am not a fan of drills and I think that making kids do daily worksheets with x addition/subtraction problems is the sort of thing that makes kids conclude that math is a boring subject. That being said, I do think that the skills that the worksheets are trying to develop are essential for exploring more fun and advanced concepts. So how does one make a kid memorize basic arithmetic facts without doing drills? In my opinion the best way is to find games that the kid enjoys playing that involve basic arithmetic operations, or come up with games of your own.
One such game that Katie enjoys playing is Sum Swamp. The way I see it, it’s main purpose is to effectively drill addition and subtraction with small numbers, but the important thing is that Katie does not see it as such! The game consists of a board with a snake-like ‘path’ and three dice: two with the numbers 1-6 on them and one with three +’s and three -‘s. When a player throws the dice he/she has to solve the small arithmetic problem to figure out how many places to advance.
What fun games do you play with your kids that involve basic arithmetic?
Addendum: today we played the ‘how many did I hide’ game with dolls that were sitting on ‘chairs’ (aka, pieces of paper). Katie had to guess first. We had 8 in total and I hid 3 (leaving the chairs behind). She opened her eyes and immediately said three. I was surprised since usually it takes her somewhat longer to do the subtraction in her head, so I decided to ask her how she figured it out. “I counted the empty chairs!” was the reply :-).