The 4 Major Math Concepts Your Kids Learn in Grades 1-2

From addition to geometry, find out the important math concepts your kids will learn in these grades.
By Jennifer Hogan
Apr 26, 2016



The 4 Major Math Concepts Your Kids Learn in Grades 1-2

Apr 26, 2016

So many fun and important ideas are being introduced in first and second grade! I love when I get to work with this age group because they get excited trying new things and are open to new ways of learning. Below are some of the major concepts taught in first and second grade math, as well as tips on how you can support your child(ren) at home.

1. Addition & Subtraction. 1st and 2nd graders extend their previous understanding from kindergarten with adding and subtracting. They begin to memorize their addition and subtraction facts up to 20, as well as solve word problems using objects, drawings, and equations. Children also begin to solve problems with more than two numbers and determine if a number is even or odd.

Encourage your child to:

  • Create and draw stories about adding and subtracting. For example:
    : Some bunnies were sitting on the grass. Three more bunnies hopped over to sit with them. Then there were five bunnies. How many bunnies were on the grass before? ? + 3 = 5
    Subtraction: Five apples were on the table. I ate some apples. Then only three apples were left. How many apples did I eat? 5 – ? = 3
  • Practice their addition and subtraction facts by playing games with numbers, dice, online, etc.
  • Decide if numbers they see in the real world are even or odd.

2. Number Sense. Your 1st and 2nd grader is also beginning to understand the concept of place value. Your child is learning about each place — ones, tens, and hundreds — by drawing pictures, counting in groups, and using base ten blocks. They are writing numbers up to 1,000 and comparing numbers. They are also building their mental math skills by solving problems mentally.

Encourage your child to:

  • Read numbers out loud and record numbers you say verbally.
  • Practice understating place value by deciding what the value of a digit is in a specific number.  For example: How much is the digit 7 worth in the number 379? 70 because the 7 is in the tens place.
  • Compare numbers using symbols: > (greater than), < (less than), or = (equal to). Play a game where you give them two numbers: 14 and 40. They can answer 14 < 40. Or 40 is > 14.
  • Solve problems mentally. For example: What is 75 + 20? 95

3. Measurement & Data. 1st and 2nd graders are beginning to understand measurement by estimating and measuring using rulers to the nearest inch, foot, yard, etc. They are beginning to count and use money to solve problems. Children are also figuring out how to tell time using both analog and digital clocks, as well as describing and creating different graphs.

Encourage your child to:

  • Estimate how long they think different objects are around the house and use rulers or tape measures to determine the actual size.
  • Read different looking clocks and use appropriate language describing the time using a.m. and p.m.
  • Collect and organize different data.
  • Find graphs in newspapers, magazines, online and compare them.

4. Geometry. In 1st and 2nd grade, children extend their previous understanding from kindergarten with 2-D and 3-D shapes. They examine the attributes of these shapes and are looking at the number of sides, angles, faces, etc. Children also beginning to partition shapes into equal pieces and use appropriate language.

Encourage your child to:

  • Identify 2-D shapes in the world: triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and octagons.
  • Identify 3-D shapes in the world: cubes, cones, cylinders, spheres, and triangular and rectangular prisms.
  • Count and find the number of sides or faces and angles each shape has.
  • Cut (partition) circles and rectangles into equal size pieces and use language such as halves, thirds, half of, a third of, etc.

Featured Photo Credit: Ableimages/Thinkstock

Have questions about your child’s math? Submit them to Jennifer here so she can consider answering in an upcoming blog. Or Share them with us on the Scholastic Parents Facebook Page.

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