Math is all about problem solving. One of the best ways to help children learn math is to present them with a problem in which they have to devise their own strategies to find the solution(s). There is usually more than 1 way to solve math problems and children need the opportunity to discover shortcuts and their own algorithms to determine the appropriate solution, they should also justify their solution(s).
The following math word problems are specific for children in the first grade and are divided into the main math categories: Number Concepts, Patterns and Algebra, Geometry and Measurement, Data Management and Probability. Children should be involved in problem solving activities every day. Problems for first grade students should be read to them. Students should also be able to describe why their solutions works or how they know it's the right solution.
Patterns and Algebra
Find something to sort such as cubes, buttons, coins etc. Use 3 paper plates and sort the items on the paper plates. Give at least 3 rules for your sorting arrangement. How many other ways can you sort this collection? What rules would you use?
Data Management and Probability
For this problem you need a spinner or a coin and recording tools. Spin a coin on its edge to see if it lands on heads or tails. If using a spinner, look to see where it lands. Now, predict how many times the coin will land on heads (or tails) if it is spun 20 times. Predict the same if using a spinner. Record the results and describe what you found out.
There are 4 yellow cars in my driveway and 2 green cars in my driveway. How many more yellow cars are there than green? How do you know? (Children are encouraged to use sorting manipulatives to arrive at their solution.)
I have six dog cookies and I have 2 dogs. If I want to be fair and give each dog the same amount of cookies, how many cookies will each dog get? How do you know?
Geometry and Measurement.
Play the 'guess a shape' game. I cannot roll and I look like a shoe box, which shape am I? I can roll on one side and look like a toilet paper roll, what am I? I have no points and I can roll, what am I?
Have each child make a page for a Shape Book. Give the writing pattern to your child, it should look like this: I am a __________. I have _____ sides. I have ______ corners. I look like a ___________.
It is important to establish a regular time to work with younger children on math. Touch base with your child's teacher to stay informed about the topics being worked on in order to support young children at home. Keep math fun! Try skip-counting toegether by 2's 3's, 5's and 10's which is an extremely valuable skill for first grade students. Count and sort the many objects around the house; this is a prerequisite for algebra! Play games like, I'm thinking of a number.....it's less than___ and more than____ etc. Use a deck of cards to play addition or subtraction snap, the first to say the correct answer gets the cards, the person with the most cards wins! Provide ample opportunities for children to estimate and predict. For instance, how many foot steps do you think your bedroom has, once the child has made the prediction, have him/her step it out to find out the actual amount. All of these strategies will promote positive math attitudes and are prerequisites in many math concepts. To see what will be expected of first grade children in math, check the related resources for the list.