In order to lay a foundation for first graders that math can be fun and is relevant in their lives, consider tailoring your curriculum to everyday things and integrating it with other disciplines to demonstrate the connections. Developing concept skills through project work will help the children's understanding of math.

My Life in Numbers

Add relevance to number knowledge by asking a child how much she weighs.
Add relevance to number knowledge by asking a child how much she weighs.

Help a child see his life in numbers, and he will begin to understand how numbers apply to almost everything. Have the class first draw self-portraits for the cover of their project. Provide them with a couple of pages of fill-in-the-blank questions related to numbers and their lives. Children can also draw pictures next to each question. Some of the questions might include the following: I was born on (fill in date in numbers); I weighed (pounds and ounces); My length was (inches); I live at (street number); My telephone number is (number); I have (number) siblings ; I am (years) old; I am now (height) tall. I now weigh (pounds); I wear shoe (size); I can jump (measured feet or inches); there are (number) students in my class. My favorite number is (number). You can add as many as you like. Through this project children build number sense, recognition and writing skills. Measurement skills may also be included.

How Many Pockets

Counting and graphing pockets builds math skills.
Counting and graphing pockets builds math skills.

This project will teach number skills like counting, adding, averaging, estimating and graphing. Read the book "A Pocket for Corduroy" aloud to the children. Talk about pockets and how some people have none, some have one, some have many. Provide each child with a simple bar chart graph and paper to write their counts on. Have children count the pockets they are wearing. Next have them count other children in the classroom. Children can take this project home and count the pockets their family members have that day. Each child can then graph their counting and compare their findings. Before children compare, have them guess or estimate how many pockets most children have and what the class average is.

Measuring Skills

First graders are intrigued with rulers and tape measures. This project will enhance number skills, units of measure and estimation. Provide each student with a ruler, divide the children into groups for a collaborative effort. Give each team a tape measure. Provide each team with a list of items they need to measure. They will need to decide if they can use a ruler or a tape measure. Next to each object on the list have them write what tool they think they will need to measure. Here are some examples: your foot--a ruler; how tall are you--a tape measure. Have them next write an estimation of how many inches or feet they think each will be. Then have them measure and write the correct answer. Other objects to measure might include a desk, a book, a pencil, an eraser, a desk's height and their finger length.