It is essential that students know their doubles facts. When students develop automaticity with their doubles, it paves the way for other mental math strategies, such as Doubles Plus One or Near Doubles. In order to develop automaticity, students need lots and lots of practice. There are many quick and easy ways to provide this opportunity for practice.

This is a simple activity that I used with my students for years, and the majority of students mastered their doubles very quickly. If anything, I hope that this is an “a-ha” moment for you and provides an easy activity that you can do with your students, particularly when there are five minutes left in class and you need a quick activity! I’ve also included a link to a free Doubles Practice printable near the end of this post.

I find that ten-sided dice are a great way to effectively practice doubles facts. Ten-sided dice include the numbers 0-9. Of course, for students who have already mastered their doubles facts to 10, you could use a 20-sided dice to increase the challenge.

Step 1: Give each student a ten-sided die and have him flip to a new page in his math notebook (I like students to keep a separate section in their notebooks/binders for mental math activities).

Step 2: Set a timer for 1 minute. I like to use the big timer on the Smartboard so that all of the students can see the clock counting down.

Step 3: Once you start the timer, have students begin the activity. Each student rolls his die and writes a doubles equation using that number. For example, if he rolls an 8, he should write “8+8=16” in his notebook. If he rolls a 5, he should write “5+5=10” in his notebook. Students keep rolling and writing until the timer stops. As students work, the teacher should circulate the room, glancing at students’ papers as they write. If you notice an error, just quickly point it out to the student and have him fix it up. If you are not able to see every equation by every student, don’t stress! It’s just practice.

Step 4: When the time is up, have each student count the total number of equations that he wrote during the minute. They can then show their data on a bar graph (I get students to draw their own bar graphs in their notebooks, but you could also make one and print it out).

NOW, the next time that you do this activity (I like to do it twice per week), have students first set a goal based on their number of equations last time. This is a great opportunity to discuss how to set a realistic goal. For example, if a student wrote 15 equations last time, 30 equations would not be a realistic goal for this time. But 17 might be a good goal! I like to get students to write their goal at the top of the paper and circle it before beginning (see second picture in this post). Then repeat the activity again, have them add to the graph for a new day, and reflect on the goal that they set. Did they exceed their goal? Was it realistic? How might they change it for next time?

My experiences with this simple activity have been fantastic. The 1 minute limit ensures that students are completely engaged for the entire time. Don’t worry – talking or fooling around won’t be an issue! They will be working like mad! Goal-setting ensures that they are only competing against themselves – no one else (this is also a great class discussion to have). The repeated practice has an amazing effect on mastering doubles facts! And lastly, students love it! I always like to make a big deal out of individual improvements (since they can see this on their bar graph after a few times), to help increase self-confidence. To increase metacognition, ensure that you are discussing this activity with your students. I like to say things such as, “Who has noticed that they are getting faster at doubles?”, “Which facts are you noticing that you just KNOW without even thinking about them?”, “Can you feel yourself getting better and better at mental math?” Conversations like this, that allow students to see their improvements, will excite your students (as long as you are excited about it too), and excitement about math is ALWAYS a good thing!

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