Two Plus Two Is Not Five


Two plus two is not five?  That’s so obvious!  For our students who struggle with math computation, however, this is not so easy.  My first blog post introduced Rekenreks, a great resource for your first grade math class.  Today I want to share a favorite math resource book: Two Plus Two Is Not Five: Easy Methods to Learn Addition +Subtraction by Susan Greenwald, M.A. Ed.

I’d been teaching math lessons to my twelve first graders for several months, when one day I noticed that a certain student was struggling with a simple fact.  “What’s 3+1?” I heard him whisper to himself.  My heart sank.  I knew he struggled in math, but in that moment, I knew we had been limping along for too long.  Something needed to change NOW!  Despite my attempts to help him understand numbers, he wasn’t connecting the pieces.  I needed to change my approach to math.

And then I remembered the book.

Let me tell you a bit about this book.  Two Plus Two Is Not Five was introduced to me several years ago at a teachers’ workshop.  It is a supplementary workbook, with over 200 reproducible pages.  The book is divided into six tiers, with each tier introducing more facts, while occasionally giving cumulative reviews.  Great for reinforcement!

Another powerful aspect of this book is its non-traditional approach to math facts.  Typically, math facts are grouped according to families.  For example, first graders learn 9+1 when they are learning the 10 family, 9+2 when they are learning the 11s, and 9+3 when they learn the 12s, etc.  In this book, however, students learn the trick for adding Magic Nine and then apply that rule to numbers 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, etc.  It gives them immediate practice adding the Magic Nine, plus helps them group facts in ways that are not difficult to remember.

This book also includes stories for making math facts stick.  You learn about The Cheese Curl Facts, The Nose Facts, The Very Straight Facts, Number in the Middle Facts, etc.  My students find these tricks quite helpful, because I also incorporate these stories into my regular Math instruction.  Cheese Curl Facts, for example, are the two addition and two subtraction facts that come from the numbers: 3, 5, and 8. (Cheese curl, because each number has a curl in it).  If my students are stuck on 8-5= sometimes I prompt them by simply saying: “Cheese Curl Fact” and the answer usually comes fairly promptly!  I’ve also overheard my students use these reminders while they are flashing cards to each other.

On that eventful day, when I realized my math struggler needed extra help, I pulled out this book in a sort of desperation.   I previewed it again, and it seemed like a good option for my little guy.

So we began at Tier 1 and we have been making steady progress since that day.  The 100s he began receiving in math gave him confidence and eagerness to tackle his lesson.

This book is meant to be used as a supplement.  This is handy, because a student can complete the concept parts (money, time, ordering numbers, etc.) of their lesson, but rather  than wade through a multitude of math facts that he/she isn’t ready to memorize, worksheets from Two Plus Two Is Not Five can give the extra practice needed.

A few dollars invested in a book go a long way in adding spice to your Math classes and giving your strugglers the practice and reinforcement they need!

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