The Comprehensive Maths Vocabulary List for KS1 and KS2
Like many teachers you’re probably keen to support your pupils with their KS1 & KS2 Maths vocabulary but narrowing down the list and keeping track of what pupils know and what they don’t know can be hard.
We know how important maths vocabulary is at Key Stage 2 and earlier. As a related article on mathematical language shows, many of the questions pupils encounter in the SATs tests and earlier involve quite a complex and nuanced understanding of maths terminology, even before you’ve attempted to answer the question.
At the start of each online maths tuition lessons, our maths tutors will recap all the key words for the topic, just to establish what the children know already, and to understand how much support will be needed.
This is much as you will do every day in your maths lessons or in your knowledge organisers, with the key words on the whiteboard or highlighted clearly.
The challenge sometimes in maths can be ‘which key words’ to choose. That’s why we’ve created a starting point for you – a comprehensive maths vocabulary list of the 96 maths vocab words from the national curriculum that all primary school children should know by the end of KS2 (and many of them earlier in KS1).
Maths Vocabulary List
A simple and easy to use resource that can help your pupils improve their knowledge of crucial Maths vocabulary to help them prepare for SATs in Year 6.
What’s in the Third Space Maths Vocabulary List
The maths vocab list is very definitely just a starting point for your pupils adventures into the marvels of mathematical language.
We’ve deliberately kept it to 96 words both to focus pupils’ attention and to give time and space for children to add their own definitions and explanations as well as any additional terms that they need to remember for each year group.
Children are much more likely to remember the meanings and terms of mathematical words and phrases if they have constructed the pages for themselves. They can choose vocabulary which reflects their age range, and once made the dictionary can be accessed and used frequently in maths lessons.
A-Z of maths terms and their definitions includes:
Acute, Adjacent, Alternate, Angle, Area, Ascending order, Average, Axis of symmetry, Baker’s dozen, Base, Base angles, Bisect, Breadth, Capacity, Cardinal number, Carroll Diagram, Circumference, Composite number, Congruent, Consecutive, Coordinates, Denominator, Descending order, Diagonal, Difference, Digit, Digital root, Dimensions, Dodecagon, Edge, Equation, Equilateral triangle, Even number, Exterior, Face, Face value, Factor, Greater than, Gross, Hendecagon, Heptagon, Hexagon, Horizontal, Improper fraction, Integer, Interior, Intersection, Irregular shapes, Isosceles triangle, Kite, Less than, Line of symmetry, Lozenge, Mean, Median, Mode, Multiple, Numerator, Oblique, Oblong, Obtuse angle, Octagon, Odd number, Ordinal number, Parallel lines, Parallelogram, Perimeter, Perpendicular line, Place value, Polyhedron, Prime number, Product, Quadrant, Quindecagon, Quotient, Rectangle, Reflex angle, Rhombus, Roman numerals, Rotational symmetry, Rounding, Scalene triangle, Score, Square number, Squared, Sum, Symmetrical, Tally, Tessellation, Tetragon, Translation, Trapezium, Triangular number, Trigon, Vertex, Vertical line.
How to use the Maths Vocabulary List
To really embed pupils’ knowledge of new maths terminology we recommend you encourage them to build their own maths vocabulary list. You can use our list or parts of our list as a prompt to get them started or hand it out in full and encourage them to add to it.
As teachers, however, we need to make sure they’re remembering the correct words and definitions. As you will know from cognitive load theory, practice makes permanent, so we want that practice to be the correct information.
To accompany this list we’ve also produced a really excellent article on how to embed maths terminology in your class. This looks at the confusion that arises around maths terms with dual meanings, or ones we use imprecisely.
Your maths vocabulary list will be essential to support your work developing pupils knowledge and understanding of maths words.
Why you need this maths vocabulary list in your classroom
- The maths vocabulary list provides a focal point for your pupils to use everyday with agreed definitions. Having one centralised Maths vocabulary list that pupils can become familiar with can prove invaluable as part of their maths reasoning work.
- The maths language in this vocabulary list is crucial to prepare pupils for Year 6. The terms and phrases explained will come up throughout both the KS1 and KS2 Maths curriculum.
- It is a great way to keep track of current knowledge levels and gaps in Maths understanding in your class. Knowledge levels will vary from year to year based on what has been covered in the curriculum, but you will soon see if there are any areas that are still a mystery to pupils and be able to take action to help them achieve.
- We have included space for note taking within the resource to enable pupils to actively engage in creating their own definitions and ways to remember the words.
- With most schools now following a version of White Rose Maths, the mathematical vocabulary has been chosen with reference to the White Rose scheme and the A-Z of terms of that they use.
Ideas to improve maths vocabulary include:
- A maths word of the day which teacher and pupils should aim to use
- Encourage maths journal writing; this maths mastery toolkit has more information about maths journals this a
- Looking specifically and recording in their maths journals maths vocabulary that they encounter in everyday life with a different meaning
- Make learning new words fun through activities such as: making foldable shapes, creating word walls and pictures and publishing pupil led videos about shapes.
- If your class responds well to this kind of stimulus, then find a rap, or song on YouTube to help them remember. One of our favourite is this one to remember the steps to long division.
- Try out some of these maths vocabulary games and activities using the maths terms on the list.
Set out in an easy to follow A-Z structure, the list covers words and phrases from all elements of the Maths curriculum, with easy to follow definitions ranging from A for Average right through to V for Vertex.
With so many mathematical words being used in the classroom, it is important for pupils to have a place to store all of this information, and that is why we made this comprehensive list of maths terms!
More articles to support your maths mastery work at school
- What is Maths Mastery?
- How To Use the Concrete Pictorial Abstract Approach In Primary School
- What Does Greater Depth Look Like In KS2 Maths
Don’t miss our maths dictionary for kids either which includes links to fuller definitions, with examples and sample questions on some additional terms like quadrilaterals, right angle, 3-D shapes, cuboid, common factor, venn diagram, x-axis and y-axis.
Do you have pupils who need extra support in maths?
Every week Third Space Learning’s maths specialist tutors support thousands of pupils across hundreds of schools with weekly online 1-to-1 lessons and maths interventions designed to plug gaps and boost progress.
Since 2013 we’ve helped over 130,000 primary and secondary school pupils become more confident, able mathematicians. Learn more or request a personalised quote for your school to speak to us about your school’s needs and how we can help.
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