Using Math Vocabulary

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Language Arts, Reading, Vocabulary, Mathematics, Operations (+, -, x, /, etc.)

Grade 1- 3


Children learn and practice the vocabulary of math. They compare numbers using the symbols greater than (>) and less than (<) and use ordinal numbers to determine place or location.


Go over the math vocabulary with the children: addend, sum, minuend, difference, greater than, and less than. Ask the children if they know what the words mean. Use math problems to illustrate the meaning of each word.
For example, using the equation 3 + 9 = 12, ask: "Children, what are the two addends in this problem?" and "What is the sum of the two addends?"
Another example is 12 - 9 = 3. Ask: "Children, what is the difference?" and "What is the minuend?"
Write 3 > 0; 4 > 0; 1 < 5. Ask the children if they notice a pattern. Ask: "What is the pattern?" and What does the pattern mean?" Tell the children that the < and > symbols mean less than and greater than. The large opening always points towards the larger number. Read the number sentences aloud, "3 is greater than 0; 4 is greater than 0; 1 is less than 5."
Do this several times with different math problems so that the children feel comfortable using the words.
Have the children cut pictures out of catalogs and magazines. Glue each picture on a peice of heavy paper. Place the pictures in a line on the chalkboard ledge, in a pocket chart, or on a table. Have the children pick up the picture that is third in line, first in line, last in line, 19th in line, etc. Explain that these words are ordinals. Ordinals tell the place or location of something.
Go over each work sheet with the children.


  • pictures from magazines or catalogs
  • heavy paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • pocket chart (optional)
  • heavy paper
  • Using Math Vocabulary activity sheets

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