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Rocket Math Strategies

Rocket Math Rocket

Many grade schools now using various types of timed tests for basic arithmetic. This web site was originally created to provide practice worksheets for a time testing program used at a local school district. If your child’s school is using a similar program, these worksheets will provide several variations on the single practice sheet that typically comes home for each lesson.

The Rocket Math programs are typically divided into multiple levels usually identified by letter, where each level introduces a small number of basic facts. The problems on each level are built on the The tests are usually given daily, with each test lasting one minute. Practice on the problems is pretty critical to success, especially if your child isn’t one that works well under the pressure of the clock.

There are different Rocket Math levels for each of the four basic math operations. My kids started with Rocket Math addition in first grade and have generally worked up through the operations year-by-year, (subtraction in second grade, multiplication in third grade, and, still to come, division in fourth grade.)

For practice, as part of home work two or three times a week I’ll run off five of the worksheets, usually two from the level my daughter is currently on and then a selection of three from the next two or three levels she’ll likely cover. I’ll then use the countdown timer on the site and run a five minute test. Its very critical that you grade the tests and have your child correct anything that’s wrong. In fact, where an answer is consistently wrong, I’ll even resort to having my daughter write the correct math fact out eight or ten times. Memorizing a math fact wrong is simply deadly and you need to catch this as early as possible when it comes up. Never (never, ever) skip grading a Rocket Math test. Child Protective Services has a special room for parents that let their kids memorize 6×7=56.

Anyway, apart from the raw practice these longer tests give, the logic here is that this is a much longer, harder and more stressful test than what she goes through at school each day. That makes the tests at school seem a whole lot easier by comparison. It does make create something of a motivation factor, and that’s really the key hurdle to overcome.

For some of those trickier multiplication facts, it can help to print out one of the black and white multiplication charts and then highlight some of those facts that seem troublesome. There are a real cluster of facts in the seven-times family that can be trouble, and seeing how those facts fit around the other products in context can be a big boost to visual learners that carry over to the division facts as well. For addition and subtraction facts, counting forwards or backwards on a hundreds chart can serve as a similar reference tool if your child is struggling to remember certain facts.

Motivation around here comes in many forms. It starts with having a positive attitude around the tests, no matter what happens. Reinforce that the practice is what counts (not getting 100% accuracy or completing it on time, even though that’s what you want ultimately.) Passing a particular five minute test under the timer usually merits a high-five and a serious break from whatever’s going on… Maybe a getting a little time on the Wii with Dad or a Godzilla movie or something else fun. We’ll set targets for levels and maybe working up to level ‘N’ means a $20 trip to Toys’R’Us or going out for a Quadruple-Venti Mocha at Starbucks (actually, cocoa for the kids… Dads need motivation, too.)

All the way around, the key here is making the activity fun and engaging. Making this enjoyable at home plus the success this will bring with testing at school will quickly turn Rocket Math into enormously positive experience. Honestly, how great is it to have your kids saying not only that “I’m good at math!” but also “I love math!”

This Dad was never so proud.

36 Comments »

  1. Just wanted to thank you for the great website. My third grader is struggling with “Rocket Math” right now, so hoping these worksheets and tips will help!

    Comment by Amy — November 19, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

  2. Thanks Amy! One of my girls is in third grade right now, so we’re right there with you… Good luck and keep practicing!

    Comment by Dad — November 19, 2008 @ 3:05 pm

  3. I just discovered this wonderful website. Thank you so much for creating it and generously sharing it online! I am an American mother of two children living in Europe and I sometimes feel cut off from schooling resources. That won’t be true anymore with math.

    Thank you again – you’re helping a lot of people!

    Comment by Christina H. — December 14, 2008 @ 7:18 am

  4. Hello Christina –

    I’m glad you found us here, and really appreciate the feedback. The time your kids spend overseas will teach them things they could never get in a classroom stateside, but until you’re home I’m sure pleased to help with the math!

    Safe travels!

    Dad

    Comment by Dad — December 15, 2008 @ 11:30 am

  5. Thank you for this, I have been looking for sheets for my daughter to practice at home and this is perfect

    Thanks

    Comment by Colleena — January 12, 2009 @ 8:48 am

  6. As a twenty-three year veteran of the school system and a Math Content Specialist, I applaud your site and your method. Multiplication facts are quite arbitrary to 9 and 10 year olds. The number sense, in this case, usually comes long after the facts are memorized. The home-school connection is the key to most student’s success. I am not a reward person, however, this is the one area that I let go and have an enticing “prize box.” Remember, improvement is the goal, not perfection. This is one time that a 35% is considered great compared to last week’s 20%.
    Bravo Dad! Thanks for your help!

    Comment by Mary S — January 19, 2009 @ 7:03 am

  7. This is wonderful! My son was stuck on Addition Set R. With the help of these additional worksheets to practice on….he has blown through the rest of the sets. In fact he has passed most of them on the very first try. He is slated to start the review X,Y,Z this week.

    Kudos to you, dad. Keep it up. I have passed on this website to many other parents in the class.

    THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Sue K. — February 17, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  8. Tell your son congratulations for me, Sue! 🙂

    Comment by Dad — February 17, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  9. In regard to my comment # 7 above…….my son is now up to Subtraction “P” tomorrow. These worksheets have helped greatly.

    Comment by Sue K. — March 23, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  10. You are such a blessing. Thank you for sharing all of your work. The worksheets have been an invaluable resource in helping my daughter practice and helping her to stay on star roll all year.
    Again, thank you.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 4, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

  11. This site is an awesome resource. My older two children did this rocket math and now my third is on it six years later. With my first two it was a true struggle because there were no practice sheets sent home to work on and help them. With your website my third daughter will have the chance to hopefully not struggle as much with this math program.

    It is also great that she can time herself because she seems to get into that.

    Thank you so much.

    Comment by Trixie — October 12, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  12. Dad, I find your spaceship math wonderful precursor to the rocket math. My students do not get all out of sorts because they know that they have several practice sheets to work on before they take the timed tests (which I don’t believe in, but the district does). Thanks! I love your stuff!

    Comment by sped teacher — November 13, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  13. Thanks for these worksheets!! These are going to be TOTALLY helpful in supplementing my son’s school’s Rocket Math program. I’ve toyed with the idea of erasing the ones that come home to have him practice with or make them myself but, never got motivated to do that. THANKS for all your work and providing this to other parents! Despite being above grade level in math …. timed work is stressful for my son and he is below what they want him to be with Rocket Math …. so, hopefully the practice at home will alleviate his anxiety at school. Thanks Again!

    Comment by Sandra — November 23, 2009 @ 7:32 pm

  14. While these sheets may be good to have around the house for math practice, we must not lose sight of the fact that research indicates that timed tests cause more apprehension in students. Learning the mathematical processes and meaning of mathematical operations should be at the forefront of our teaching. We must stress accuracy, not speed. If we want to raise a generation of mathematicians who may be going in to a field of science, I want that person to be concerned with his/her accuracy in figuring out a cure for cancer…..not who gets to the finish line first. But,to those who feel the need for speed, this site is good for you.

    Comment by Mom — January 28, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  15. What is mastery in terms of what score out of 40 in a one minute timed test does a child need in order to move on to the next sheet or level? Thanks

    Comment by John Martin — March 23, 2010 @ 11:37 am

  16. Hello,

    I am starting to investigate the Rocket math and found this site too. My kids school does not do the Rocket Math program but I certainly wish they would.

    They do the old fashion 1 fact at a time and you can’t go to the next one until that one is passed with 100% accuracy. They do NOT take into consideration the overall writing speed of the child. This is so frustrating to me and to my daughter.

    Any ideas on how to incorporate this program at home while still helping her pass the standard tests in school. A-Z sheets and the facts that are learned in succession don’t match the facts that she is being tested on in school.

    OR

    Any ideas on where to start with a school to get them to look into the Rocket Math program? Would you start with the teacher, the parents, the PTG, the principle?

    Thanks!

    Carrie

    Comment by Carrie R — March 18, 2011 @ 9:39 am

  17. HI Carrie –

    My first grader is very particular about her hand writing, and the concept of hurrying through a timed math test has been difficult to get past. She gets in the mode, but it’s hard. We spend a lot of time encouraging kids to write neatly, and then when we get to math (for at least fact memorization) that goes out the window a bit. All I can say is stick with it and practice timed tests at home to try to get your daughter’s writing speed up. We try to make it fun with the timer (I pick different ending sounds so its a surprise) and just get her used to going fast and maybe a little less neatly at least for math…

    And, likewise, we’re also doing “Mad Minute” math now so the worksheets don’t quite match up with the Rocket Math or Spaceship Math sheets here. Teachers always have materials they’ve used in the past, and they may not be excited to change. What we’re doing right now is just trying to master the whole range of addition and subtraction facts at home, and practicing the worksheets for specific facts where it looks like we’ve missed something at school.

    If you want to encourage your teachers to try something else, Google “Otter Creek Math” you’ll find some more information about the Rocket Math program for teachers. It’s a commercial product, but includes training and other materials for teachers using the tests in a class. Or, just encourage your teacher to visit this web site and use what’s available here.

    Hope this helps,

    Dad

    Comment by admin — March 20, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  18. As a parent struggling with the absolutely bizarre “Everyday Math” curriculum used in our school district, I am concerned about helping my son overcome both his current dislike for math, and his demoralization regarding his math abilities courtesy of the above mentioned school curriculum. A friend in another state recommended your site, and I am hopeful this will help. Last year in second grade they had students doing three place multiplication without ever having learned basic multiplication facts! It’s been incredibly frustrating for us as parents, and for our son. Thanks for the info and worksheets.

    Comment by Julie S. — July 15, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  19. My son is in 3rd grade and has been struggling with timed drills on addition and subtraction (they do time drills every Friday and he has been scoring in the low 30’s out of 50. I’ve been using these worksheets for practice and yesterday he came home from school with a score of 50 out of 50!!!

    Couldn’t have done it without you.

    Comment by Cari — October 15, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  20. Awesome, Cari! Tell your son “Good Job!” from me!

    Comment by admin — October 15, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  21. Hi –
    Thanks for your website. My son’s school started “Mastering Math.” The teacher will not send home practice pages, even though all the websites for Rocket Math and Mastering Math insist that for this program to be successful, home practice is key. I don’t know what other parents are doing but it sure seems like a waste of time if the kids do not get home practice! For everyone’s benefit, we have found verbal practice to be the only thing that helps my son master his facts. We use these pages and he recites all the problems and answers verbally. Thanks so much!

    Comment by Susan Gould — October 22, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  22. I am bugged that my 2nd grader gets 24 done and correct yet her goal in class is 25. But what matters is getting the 25 and not seeing the 24 that is correct. So she stays on that letter until she obtains the full 25. This slows the process of learning down in what they can learn by years end IMO.

    Is there an average amount of questions a child should be reaching. What should be expected? I see that the teacher adjusts the goal on a random bases. Since she can adjust a goal should she not say “nice job with that 24 lets move on.”

    Thank you,

    Terry

    Comment by terry — January 12, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  23. Hi Terry –

    My experience with my daughters has been similar to yours… The guidelines seem fluid in a lot of classrooms. Ultimately, you want to shoot for 100% mastery of the facts, but you also don’t want to see your kid stuck somewhere. That’s ultimately what got me started drilling the girls at home because my older one just couldn’t get past a couple of Rocket Math levels.

    It’s probably a good thing when a teacher adapts things to the circumstances to keep a sense of progress, but I imagine that can make things case-by-case in some scenarios.

    Best advice from me would be just have your 2nd grader practice a test or two ahead of where she’s at so that when she hits in in class, she’s ahead of the game already… 🙂

    Dad

    Comment by admin — January 12, 2012 @ 9:36 am

  24. Thanks Dad. I have concerns with the emphasis on speed. I believe there should be a balance in speed and accuracy. What business wants is that balance. I have friends who are engineers, lawyers, accountants, engineers and actuaries. They will tell you mistakes are very costly. My girl is an A type personality so she dots her I’s and crosses all T’s before going on. Now tell me what’s more important.
    I remember in class the tests had a time limit and the ones who knew it always had time to kill (or in rocket ship math they go to the next letter), while the ones who did not know it used every last min. But we all moved on to the next level. If one cant get past the allotted amount then they are held back until they become fast enough (or they learn less in that school year).
    In higher grades you do not need to get 100% for an A so why should we expect that here. I would think a better use of rocket ship math is take a rocket ship test before you learn the subject then take one every for days like quizzes to show there progress in mastering the subject.

    If you cant tell I am a little annoyed lol.

    Terry
    Again is there a standard to compare with on how many problems in each letter group.

    Comment by terry — January 12, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  25. Hi Terry –

    I understand… I don’t think there’s a hard/fast standard for any of this, so it’s going to depend on what your classroom teacher is doing. For me at least, I’d think getting wrong no more than three problems (which would be 92.5% on a 40 problem test) would be enough accuracy to be comfortable advancing… The pages typically have more than 50% of the facts as the “new” ones being introduced, and if there’s (at worst) four facts, that means you’d have seen every new fact five times on the page, so worst case if you’re missing one of those it’s not happening consistently and it’s probably enough to pick up in review.

    I would emphasize though it’s pretty critical to grade and get the kids to correct these pages as you’re doing drills. Usually it’s just one or two facts that are tripping things up (often, it’s not even a fact that’s wrong, it’s just one they seem to stop and have to think hard on during the test.) Extra practice, even mundane stuff like writing the fact five times and saying it aloud, is magic here.

    Regardless, don’t get frustrated with your teacher… The best revenge (for you AND your daughter) for any silly standards is just having your her going in nailing it each time… 🙂

    Have fun,

    Dad

    Comment by admin — January 12, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  26. I just wanted to say thank you for all of the worksheets on the website. Both of my kids have used your spaceship math worksheets to prepare for Rocket Math at school. They just love being able to pass on the first try each time at school and it has really boosted their confidence. I tell everyone about your website – math has never been so much fun!

    Comment by Kerri — March 4, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

  27. Thank you so much for this website! We homeschool and are pleased with our other math curriculum. However I heard so much about “Rocket math” that I was concerned my kids were missing something. We’ve been doing your “Spaceship Math” for a few weeks now and they LOVE it. Getting to do a couple extra timed tests is now a reward for diligence on other work. One day we did two minute timed tests repeatedly for almost an hour. I have a 1st grader and 2nd grader who both all of a sudden LOVE math. Thank you again! Joy

    Comment by Joy E — April 14, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  28. I too am frustrated….with the implementation and meaning supposedly gained from the Rocket Math protocol in a first grade classroom. I’d rather my girls (ID twins) develop math confidence through fun and accuracy. The worksheets do not have enough white space, peer pressure is obvious (jenny is on the next level and i’m only on this one). The emphasis on speed, as Terry describes earlier, can be demoralizing and it jeopardizes the amount of learning that a child can accomplish in a year if they’re chronically told to repeat the next version of the worksheet because they are off from a couple of their “goal”.

    Comment by PAMom — June 5, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

  29. My daughter is now doing rocket math, in the second grade. Her Goal is now to get all 40 right. Yes she passes at least every other day(they do it daily). But she is stressed out every night that she can’t make a single mistake. This has become such an emotional toll on her. I like that kids are once again learning to recall math facts quickly. But in this rare exception, I feel it is a detrimental program. She now dreads math, when she used to love it! When should perfection be expected by a second grader in school?

    Comment by Teresa — November 6, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  30. Thanks so much for sharing these worksheets. As far as I can tell, my son’s math program at school is all about concepts with little or no emphasis on drilling math facts. It doesn’t matter how high the ladder is if the first few rungs are broken or missing! I really appreciate these worksheets since it looks like it’s up to me to make sure he has the foundation he needs to succeed.

    Comment by Shannon — September 28, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  31. If I do not purchase the Rocket Math for my homeschool, but instead just use your version, will my current 3rd grader benefit from your math review? I want to make a decision soon to help my son with mastering his math facts much faster and with proven results. Thanks!

    Comment by Laura S. — December 21, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  32. I’ve got a rocket math worksheets from dadsworksheets.com by my dad for helping me print the copy paper.

    Comment by Angelina P. — March 23, 2014 @ 6:06 am

  33. Kindergarten Rocket Math – Do you have an option for number writing fluency for Kindergartners? I can’t seem to find anything for my Kdg students to use to get them into the habit of RM! 🙂 Thanks! 🙂

    Comment by Lisa — September 8, 2014 @ 9:41 am

  34. My children did Rocket Math at school in 3rd and 4th grade. My daughter’s class is not doing Rocket Math in 4th grade this year though so I gave the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division assessments to both my 4th grade daughter and 6th grade son. We are starting with addition at home and they are both working through the levels they need. They are very excited about doing this and it has been good for them. We have a 10 minute drive to school and they each go through their set 3 times on the way to school every morning, checking each other so they don’t distract my driving. We do the same on the trip home and talk for the rest of the time. It has been great!

    Comment by Joanna — March 18, 2015 @ 3:34 pm

  35. This is a wonderful site! Thank you for putting all this information together. I’m a former teacher and now tutor clients privately. The resources you have made available here are just priceless!

    Comment by Lisa Anders — February 16, 2019 @ 5:02 pm

  36. Thanks Lisa! 🙂

    Comment by Admin — February 28, 2019 @ 8:19 am

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