First Grade Math Lessons
The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

First grade math lessons are easy for you and me, but not for just everybody.

In the first grade, the students are introduced to so many new concepts, it’s easy for some of the kiddos to become confused.

Every week they are taught new skills in math, science, social studies, health, and language arts, which includes reading, writing, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, listening skills, etc. WHEW!

And the list is longer whenever you include library science, physical education, music, art, foreign languages, etc.

No wonder they sometimes get mixed up ...

A First Grade Math Lesson

Joe Joe wanted help with writing the numeral five, so I showed him how by writing a row of fives on his paper ...

5 5 5 5 5

“Now,” I said, “let me see you do it.”

“OKAY,” he said, raring to go, “but just one thing ... Do I make ‘em capital, or not?”

Math Worksheet

In a small math group, the children were working on a math worksheet that had pictures of sheep on it.

“Last night I dreamed about sheep,” Martin recalled. “SEVEN sheep.”

“Yes?” I said, smiling and wondering where this was headed.

“I counted ‘em ... They was seven.”

“What happened then?” Ben asked eagerly.

“Nuttin,” Martin mumbled, changing his entire demeanor. He studied his worksheet.

But a moment later, he glanced up to see that everyone at the table was still looking at him, wanting to hear more.

Surprised, he said, "Huh?"

Everyone waited. We wanted to know.

Sighing deeply, he admitted the truth. “Okay, so after that, I didn’t know WHAT to do!”

Amy asked earnestly, “Why didn’t you keep counting?”

Disgusted with himself, Martin smacked himself on the forehead. “OH SHOOT! I didn’t even thank about THAT!”

Counting Sheep


All Done!

“LOOK, I done done ALL my work!” Ben cheered.

“Let’s see,” I said, happy that he had completed all of his math worksheet.

As I checked his addition, he stood behind me, peering over my shoulder.

Mmmmm ... What's up with that? I thought. Not typical behavior from Ben.

Then what he said next helped me to understand his sudden shyness …

Nibbling on the tip of one of his index fingers, he mumbled, “But ‘cept now, I don’t know if they gunna show up RIGHT or not!”

Learning to Add and Subtract

So much of human nature is interesting to me …

For example, during math, I wanted the first graders – who need help – to use the beans I gave them. The beans were there to be used in solving their addition and subtraction problems.

Every child KNOWS HOW to use the beans – as well as an abacus - but some won’t even try, unless someone is right beside them.

Students, called “study buddies,” were teamed in pairs to help each other.

As I walked around the classroom observing and helping, I heard Joe Joe comment to his study buddy, “Look here,” he said, “this page gots seven plus five on it ... I only gots SEVEN fingers up here. I AIN’T GOT FIVE MORE!”

* * *

Now, as cute as that is, you can easily see that we teachers have our work cut out for us, especially whenever the child is behind in readiness skills, such as first grade math lessons ...

So I love it whenever my kiddos have attended Kindergarten for an entire year. Kindergarten should be mandatory in every state, but as I write this (1982), it is not!

First Grade Math Lessons


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