How 1st Grade Math
Can Make You Smarter

From first-graders learning the basics to seniors solving complex problems, 1st grade math provides great opportunities to build vocabulary.

That’s why we believe ALL teachers should tap into the vocabulary-building power of math. Even if you teach another subject, even if you are a home school parent, math vocabulary will help you build great lesson plans.

Start now with 1st-grade math lesson plans, and see for yourself how Latin and math work together to improve skills in thinking and problem solving.


It’s not just Addition’s tricky pal. The word subtraction is comprised of Latin roots that can and should be taught in first grade.

The word literally means to drag from under. SUB means under, and TRACT means dragged.

A first-grader may imagine a TRACTOR dragging three apples from the whole group of five. A tractor, literally, is a machine that drags or draws.

Years later in middle school, a girl may suddenly be ATTRACTED to a boy, i.e. dragged or drawn toward him.

A high school junior, however, may forget about boys and become interested in learning new words for her upcoming SAT. Words such as:


Plus and Minus

In Latin, PLUS means more and MINUS means less.

A first-grader learns to add and take (drag!) away, but might also begin to understand singular vs. PLURAL.

In social studies, middle school students may learn of the PLURALISM of early America. They may study elements of our PLURALISTIC society, including MINORITY cultures.

They may begin to identify themselves as MINORS as they prepare and wait for the right to vote.

In high school, one student may become bored with the MINUTE details of grammar, while another falls in love with the MINUTIAE of learning language.

All these words and more can be acquired in the study of 1st grade math!


When a child gathers together blocks, sea shells, or carrot sticks, adding them up, he is getting at the exact meaning of the Latin verb ADDERE, which means to place with or to join together.

The noun form is ADDITIO, ADDITIONIS.

While not quite as easy to unpack as Subtraction, the word Addition provides several advanced vocabulary words in English.

The two elements are the prefix AD, which mean to or toward, and the root verb DARE, meaning to give.

Students at all levels of study may benefit from associating addition with the following words:


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