Should we allow students to use their fingers when learning and solving math facts? I’m going with an emphatic YES…with one condition. They have to be using them efficiently. For example, are they solving 10 – 4 by putting up one finger at a time to show ten fingers, and then removing one at a time? That might not be the best finger usage. However, all 10 fingers up and putting four down in one “poof” makes TOTAL sense mathematically. We are letting students make sense of quantity and structure numbers when we do this.
There is abundant research out there about finger use, and the deep connections it makes for our student’s fact fluency knowledge.
The best part? Students feel SO confident with learning subtraction facts, which is usually much harder to teach and learn than addition.