Elementary Mathematical Terms and Definitions

In elementary school, your child will be introduced to fundamental math terms that relate to both the classroom and daily life. Continue reading to find out how you can help your child learn and remember grade-level-appropriate mathematical vocabulary.

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How to Help Your Child Study Elementary Mathematical Terms

Many kids don't think of math as a subject requiring vocabulary lessons; however, in elementary school, your child will learn foundational terms that are necessary for his or her continued study of math. Here are a few ways you can help your child keep math terms straight:

  1. Encourage your child to keep a dictionary in the back of his or her math notebook. This way, he or she can have easy access to these terms in class and at home. Your child might choose to rewrite the definitions in his or her own words, rather than copying the definition from a textbook, to ensure that he or she has a full understanding of the material.
  2. Have your child include a drawing or example with a definition. Especially with geometry terms, it may be beneficial for your child to 'see' the definition rather than read it.
  3. Ask your child to explain the terms to you. Many students learn best by putting definitions in their own words.
  4. Make flashcards, and use them to help your child before an exam. Playing with flashcards can be a quick and fun way to review math terms.

Mathematical Terms by Grade Level

Kindergarten

Square
A shape with four sides of equal length.
Triangle
A shape with three sides and three angles.
Above
Overhead or higher than.
Below
Beneath or lower than.

First and Second

Half
One of two equal parts. Think of a pie that's been cut down the center.
Fourth
One of four equal parts.
Inch
A unit of length. On a ruler, 12 inches make up one foot. It's often abbreviated as 'in'.
Centimeter
A unit of length in the metric system; 100 centimeters make up one meter. It's often abbreviated as 'cm'.
Meter
The basic unit of measure in the metric system. It's often abbreviated as 'm'.

Third and Fourth

Perimeter
The distance around a 2-dimensional shape.
Area
The size of a shape's surface.
Volume
The amount of space a 3-dimensional shape occupies.
Line
A straight, narrow mark that goes on infinitely.
Ray
A line with a starting point. Rays continue infinitely from this point.
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