First Grade Mathematics

Unit 1: Building Number Patterns and Meanings

What will your child learn in Unit 1?

In Unit 1, first graders will understand the meanings of addition and subtraction through a variety of story problems. They will use concrete models and pictures to represent the story problems. Students will use counting to solve the addition and subtraction problems. Children go through phases to quickly and accurately recall basic math facts. Unit 1 will primarily focus on counting strategies.

They will experience different addition and subtraction story types to understand the meanings of addition and subtraction. They will approach the problem their own way and will explain their thinking. Students will be expected to explain their thinking using pictures, numbers, or words. The chart below displays the different types of story problems they will solve in Unit 1.

Problem Types

Furthermore, they will understand the Commutative Property of Addition. The property states that you can add numbers in one order and then change the order and you will get the same number. For example, if 3 + 4 = 7, then 4 + 3 = 7.

In addition, first graders will understand the meaning of the equal sign in addition and subtraction equations. They will determine if an addition or subtraction equation is true or false. In order for the children to see the equation as a balance, students will be shown equations written as 7 = 3 + 4 as well as 3 + 4 = 7. Students will practice finding the missing number in an addition or subtraction equation. For example, they will solve 8 + __ = 11 using math tools, pictures, or counting.

What models will my child use to represent problems in Unit 1?

There are a variety of ways to represent addition and subtraction problems. The handout below gives an explanation of the different types of models your child will experience in Unit 1.

Check out the pictures below to see examples of models that were used to solve the addition or subtraction problem. The work is from students from our district.

problem example

How can you support your child at home to reinforce the concepts taught in Unit 1?

There are several ways to have your child practice the math concepts at home. Try the following activities:

  • Have your child create a story problem that involves addition or subtraction to solve the problem. Challenge him or her to create different types of story problems.
  • Give your child a flashcard that contains an addition problem. Have your child find an addition flashcard that has addends in a different order. For example, for 4 + 3, your child will find 3 + 4.
  • Have your child practice the number line strategy for addition and subtraction using an interactive open number line. Click the “i” on the bottom of the website for instructions on how to use it.
  • Visit Thinking Blocks to have your child build models and solve addition and subtraction word problems. Pick numbers in the range of 1-20.
  • Visit Ten Frame to help develop counting and addition skills using the ten-frame.
  • Visit the online rekenrek (number rack) to help your child explore and discover a variety of addition and subtraction strategies. Click the “i” on the bottom of the website for instructions on how to use it.
  • Math Games for Home: Print the handouts to practice concepts through games.