First Grade Math: Word Problems

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Russell, Deb. "First Grade Math: Word Problems." ThoughtCo, Oct. 19, 2017, Russell, Deb. (2017, October 19). First Grade Math: Word Problems. Retrieved from Russell, Deb. "First Grade Math: Word Problems." ThoughtCo. (accessed October 24, 2017).

When first-grade students begin to learn about math, teachers often use word problems and real life examples to help students understand the complex language of mathematics, establishing a foundation for higher education that the students will continue for at least the next 11 years.

By the time they finish the first grade, students are expected to know the basics of counting and number patterns, subtraction and addition, comparing and estimation, basic place values like tens and ones, data and graphs, fractions, two- and three-dimensional shapes, and time and money logistics.

The following printable PDFs (including the one to the left, linked here) will help teachers better prepare students to grasp these core concepts for mathematics. Read on to learn more about how word problems help children to attain these goals before completing first grade.

Using Printable Worksheets as Teaching Tools

Worksheet # 1. D. Russell

This printable PDF provides a set of word problems that can test your student's knowledge of arithmetic problems. It also provides a handy number line on the bottom that students can use to help with their work! 

How Word Problems Help First Graders Learn Math

Worksheet # 2. D. Russell

Word problems like those found in this second printable PDF help students grasp the context surrounding why we need and use mathematics in everyday life, so it's important that teachers ensure that their students do understand this context and don't just arrive at an answer based on the math involved.

Basically, it breaks down to students understanding the practical application of math—if instead of asking students a question and a series of numbers that need to be solved, a teacher proposes a situation like "Sally has candy to share," students will understand the issue at hand is that she wants to divide them evenly and the solution provides a means to do that.

In this way, students are able to comprehend the implications of the math and the information they need to know in order to find the answer: how much candy does Sally have, how many people is she sharing with, and does she want to put any aside for later?

Developing these critical thinking skills as they relate to mathematics are essential for students to continue to study the subject in higher grades.

Shapes Matter, Too!

Worksheet #3. D. Russell

When teaching first-grade students early mathematics subjects with word problem worksheets, it's not just about presenting a situation in which a character has a few of an item and then loses some, it's also about ensuring students understand basic descriptors for shapes and times, measurements, and amounts of money.

In the linked worksheet on the left, for instance, the first question asks students to identify the shape based on the following clues: "I have 4 sides all the same size and I have 4 corners. What am I?" The answer, a square, would only be understood if the student remembers that no other shape has four equal sides and four corners.

Similarly, the second question about time requires that the student be able to calculate an addition of hours to a 12-hour system of measurement while question five asks the student to identify number patterns and types by asking about an odd number that's higher than six but lower than nine.

Each of the linked worksheets above covers the full course of mathematics comprehension required for completing the first grade, but it's important that teachers also check to ensure their students understand the context and concepts behind their answers to the questions before allowing them to move to second-grade mathematics.