Fundamentals of 1st Grade Math

1st grade

When kids enter 1st grade, they have basic understanding of math, particularly when it comes to addition and subtraction. What they don’t know at the beginning of 1st grade is that their math skills are about to reach a whole new level in the coming months. No more counting on their fingers and using single-digit numbers! It’s time to introduce base-ten blocks, multiple digit addition and subtraction, and many of the underlying properties that will help them succeed as they encounter higher-level math skills.

Key 1st Grade Math Skills

By the end of 1st grade, kids should…

  • Solve word problems using addition and subtraction
  • Add and subtract by 10s
  • Recognize greater than and less than
  • Use place value to help with multi-digit addition and subtraction
  • Understand the commutative [a+b=b+a] and associative [a+(b+c)=(a+b)+c] properties
  • Measure the length of objects
  • Read and tell time
  • Compose and decompose geometric shapes

Many of these key math skills help form a strong foundation for kids to build as they continue with math instruction in later grade-levels. For example, concepts such as place value will help them as they begin working with multiplication, division, and decimals. Beginning to measure the length of objects and composing geometric shapes will help prepare them for skills such as measuring perimeter and area in later grades.

Building 1st Grade Math Skills

Parents and teachers can help kids build their math skills by providing them with plenty of practice opportunities. Math Monkey gives first graders the opportunity to practice their basic math skills by solving addition and subtraction problems. Along with these apps, parents can leverage free online games to help support many of these key first grade math skills.

  • Count the Cubes helps kids build their addition skills while also learning to count in sets.
  • Building Blocks helps kids compose and decompose shapes by having them drag individual shapes to complete a picture.
  • More or Less helps kids learn about greater than or less than by having them choose which group of objects has more or less.
Count the Cubes

Offline, parents and teachers can support 1st grade math skills by providing kids with plenty of opportunities to add, subtract, measure, and talk about math every day. This includes coming up with simple word problems at dinner, such as “There are five people at the table. Each person has five nuggets. How many nuggets do we have altogether?” or “Which bunch of grapes has more than the other?” Products such as tangrams, place value blocks, plastic counters, and pretend clocks can also help first graders build their math skills.

math skills

As kids build these skills, parents and teachers should also reiterate why they need to learn them. It’s not enough to know that 30+10=40 or that the big hand is the hour hand and the small hand is the minute hand. Parents and teachers must show kids how these skills connect with their daily lives and show them how knowing these skills can make it easier to complete important tasks or solve problems.

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