Monday, March 21, 2011

Mental Math Strings

By this time of the year, most of you have taught your Number Sense unit.  Whether it was addition/subtraction or multiplication/division, your students probably still need more practice with mental computational skills.  But it's time to move on.  So what do you do?

Mental Math Strings are great way to continue building up your students' number sense skills in a short amount of time.  Think bellwork, only more interactive and purposeful!

Strings are nothing new. They've been around for a long time.  I'm not sure who 'invented' them but Cathy Fosnot's name is used often.

You all have access to a free resource that explains what strings are, how to make them, and what they look like.  The Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics 4-6 is the resource.

A string is a structured sequence of four to seven related computations that are designed to elicit a particular mental computational strategy. (pg. 29)

Here are some examples of strings that focuses on a particular addition strategy.

Each string is carefully constructed.  Here's the 'formula'.

Cathy Fosnot does have pre-created resources, if you're interested in purchasing a resource.  You can purchase her resources from Pearson.

The following resources are available for K-6 teachers.  The junior grade resources are also appropriate for 7-8 students.

Stay tuned for a video of Laura Thompson going through a string with her Grade 6 class!


  1. Hi,
    This one is great and is really a good post. I think it will help me a lot in the related stuff and is very much useful for me. Very well written I appreciate & must say good job.

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  2. I'm curious about presenting the strings. Do I present all three strings at the same time?

    1. This may answer your question.

  3. What an awesome post, I just read it from start to end. Learned something new after a long time. Its extremely good and very helpful for me.Thanks for sharing this great post.
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  4. Hello,
    A very well written article I would say. I got to learn much from it. I will use it while teaching. Thanks for sharing. Keep posting.
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