Math vocabulary words are a focus of most of our math units, from multiplication to fractions to area. However, there are some vocabulary words that do not fit into any of those units. These are what I call problem solving words. For example: operations, explain, justify, and solution. These words come up in all of our units and are very important. Because these words are so important, I have created a free unit focused on these words. The unit includes multiple math vocabulary activities and an assessment.
This school year, my 3rd grade team had math vocabulary goals as part of our Professional Development Plan (PDP). We were already using quizzes and crossword puzzles, but we needed a boost to our unit. Midway through the year, I realized that flashcards were a key instructional tool for my particular class. So I took our vocabulary words and put them into flashcard format. The kids could then practice them with a partner or at a center. As a class we started playing “Around the World” with vocabulary words instead of with multiplication facts. What a difference it made in how the students understood and remembered those math vocabulary words.
How to Introduce Math Vocabulary
Included in this free unit is a set of Math Word Wall Cards. These word walls include the term, a definition and sometimes an image to help the students have a reference point that they can come back to for daily use. I start out the year with these problem solving word wall cards already on my word wall, because they are the basis of everything I teach in math. During the first week of school, I review each of these words with my students.
How to Practice Math Vocabulary
After I have introduced the math vocabulary words to my students, we practice them. We make the flash cards by printing them, folding them in half and gluing them. My students each keep a copy of their flash cards in a baggie at their desk, so that they can practice with a partner quickly and easily. (This makes a great filler activity!) They also practice them during centers. After a week or so of practicing, they use their flash cards to complete their crossword puzzle.
How to Assess Math Vocabulary
Once I feel that my students have a good understanding of the math vocabulary, I use the matching test to assess my students’ learning. Sometimes I also use these tests as a pretest at the beginning of a unit to see which words I my students need the most help on, or to group my students for center rotations.
You can download all of the pieces of this Problem Solving Math Vocabulary Unit for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It’ll be a great way to start your students out with math vocabulary for the new school year.
Enjoy and have a great day!
– Heidi Raki