First Grade Lesson Plans for Understanding Math Vocabulary

Two of the key areas for math vocabulary for 1st graders are words that are measurements and shapes. Two lesson plans are included - one for measuring terms for time, money, and objects and a second lesson plan that covers geometry words.

1st grade lesson plans with math vocabulary 1st grade lesson plans with math vocabulary

Lesson Plans: Math Vocabulary

Lesson #1 - Measuring

Introduce or review the following words:

  • Time: calendar, day, hour, minute, month, o'clock
  • Money: dime, dollar, nickel, penny, quarter
  • Linear Measurement: inch, ruler, centimeter

For first grade, you need hands-on activities, especially in math.

  • You can make or buy clocks for the students to use and turn the hands to make the time. This activity is better as a large group as you can instantly check their work.
  • Most textbooks have pop-out coins for the students, or the plastic coins can be purchased. As the students progress, they can play store and pay for things with their fake money.

For linear measurement, you can do the Can of Worms activity. This is simply cutting ribbon of different colors into various lengths and put them in a container. The students alone or in groups take out the worms and measure them, recording their answers. This is much more fun than a worksheet.

Lesson #2: Shapes

This lesson plan covers the geometry words:

  • circle
  • cone
  • cube
  • cylinder
  • pyramid
  • rectangle
  • rectangular prism
  • sphere
  • square
  • triangle

One good activity to reinforce these math vocabulary words is to make a quilt. Print out a grid of one inch squares. Have the shapes cut out of various colors of construction paper to fill in the squares. Some squares will have two triangles or two rectangles.

For learning the three-dimensional words, you have to use models of each form. For practice on recognizing these words, the following games will be fun and educational.

Games: Math Vocabulary

Here are some games and activities using math words for the classroom. All of these games would be good for any vocabulary or sight words.


For this game you will need index cards and markers. Pick the vocabulary words that you want to reinforce, and write them on the cards with the definition on the back. If you are doing a geometry word like "triangle", you may just want the student to tell you how many sides it has. On three blank cards, write ZAP with lightning bolts or something explosive in nature. You might even put a wizard's hat and wand. Shuffle the cards and when a student gets the word right, whether reading it or defining it, the student keeps the card. When the ZAP card shows up, the student loses all his cards and his turn. The student with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

Melting Snowman

This is like hangman but in reverse. Draw two snowmen, or a snowman and snowwoman, on the board with equal number of parts. Have two teams that take turns either reading or defining the terms. If the first team gets it right, they get to erase one part of the snowman. You probably don't want more than 15 parts as the game may get too long.


Word Search Puzzles: Math Vocabulary

A word search puzzle can be a great way to help the students learn to spell vocabulary words in any subject. You can go to several sites online to make your own puzzle using the words of your choosing.

  • Word Search Fun and Puzzlemaker are both easy to do, just pick the size of your puzzle and put in your words. If you don't like the first puzzle they give you, you can recreate another one. Then print it out for your class.
  • Super Teacher Worksheets also has a lot of resources for teachers. If you click on Counting Money or Telling Time, you will see that there are several games and worksheets on a first grade level.