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Maths Language in Our School

Maths Language used at Bunscoil Bhríde

Language & Concepts/Skills

There is a strong link between language and concept acquisition.  We feel it is important to have a common approach to the terms used and the correct use of symbol names.  This language has been agreed at whole school level in order to ensure consistency from one class to the next and also to help avoid confusion for children having difficulties with Mathematics.  Our agreed strategies/language are the following:


No signs used until the end of the year when + sign will be introduced

AdditionLanguage: and, makes, add, is the same as, altogether makes


Introduction of signs: +, =

Vocabulary to match this: plus, equal (and, makes initially used as in junior infants)

  2+1 3top down:2 plus 1 equals 32 + 1 equals 3
2+1=3reads 2 plus 1 equals 3 or 2 and 1 makes 3 


  39+213  629 plus 3 is 12. Put down the 2 and bring over the 1NOTE: WE DO NOT SAY ‘CARRY THE 1’.
Subtraction– is introduced as a symbol in First Classlanguage: take away, less than, left
16- 4 Vertical: start from the top using the words ‘take away’16 take away four equals
5 – 1 =Horizontal: Read from left to right using the words ‘take away’5 take away 1 equals


7+3+8=187 plus 3 plus 8 equals 18 (7 plus 3 equals 10 plus 8 equals 18)
 6 3+66 plus 3 plus 6 encourage 6+6+3 
Subtractionlanguage: subtraction, decrease, subtract, take away, from, less than, minus, difference
 27-187 take away 8 I cannot do. Rename a ‘ten’. 7+10=17.  17 take away 8 equals 9.  1 take away 1 leaves 0. 


Multiplication/Division  Short Multiplication     Long Multiplication   Multiply by 10 Multiply by 100 Rounding =÷ and x are introduced as symbols in Third Class.  The following vocabulary will be used:÷ division, divide, divided by, split, share, shared between, group, how many in…X multiplication, multiply, times, groups of, Start with 4 groups of 3, move onto…                 4 threes                 4 times 3                 4 multiplied by 3from bottom Units first. Language as above. When multiplying by the unit, bring over the ten onto the line, and when then multiplying by the ten, bring over the ten onto the line above (see attached example) Add a zero Add two zeros If it’s 5 or above go up to ten, if it’s below 5 go down
DivisionLanguage:  Divisible by/not divisible by, share among, into
  12 ÷ 4       ,        ,all used12 shared among 412 divided by 4 
¼ of 327/2Share 32 among 4 and/or 32 divided by 47 divided by 2 ½ is equivalent to 2/4 (4th Class)½ is the same as 2/4½ is equal to 2/4
Decimals1/10 is equal to 0.1                         1/100 is equal to 0.01                       Include zero before decimal point
TessellationFit together with no spaces


Number   Multiplication/DivisionLanguage: square, prime, composite, rectangular numbers.Finding common multiples by listing numbersFinding Common factors by listing factorsThe words ‘product’ and ‘quotient’ are introduced.  Problems involving sum, difference, products, quotients
FractionsNumerator, denominator
½ + ½ =Horizontal method will be used for adding and subtracting fractions (see attached example)
½ – ¼ = 
Mixed numbers+ and3½ – 1 ¾  =  
MultiplicationMultiply top number by top numberBottom number by bottom numbersimplify/break down
Decimals1/10, 1/100, 1/1000 tenths, hundredths, thousandths
AdditionSubtraction Rounding decimals  Multiplication of decimals    Division by decimals Converting a fraction to a decimalto 3 decimal places (with/without calculator)to 3 decimal places (with/without calculator) to the nearest whole numberto 1 decimal placeto 2 decimal places Multiplying a decimal by a whole numberMultiplying a decimal by a decimalCount the numbers behind the decimal points in the question and make sure that there are the same amount of numbers behind the decimal point in the answer. Multiply the divisor by 10/100 to change to whole number.  If you multiply the divisor by 10/100 you must multiply the quotient by 10/100 You divide the numerators by the denominator (divide the top by the bottom) 
PercentagesConverting a fraction to a percentage You multiply by 100/1 or if possible you change the fraction to hundredths.
TimeAdditionSubtractionAdd minutes to minutesHours to hours and simplify ( changing minutes to hours)hrs.        mins              hrs.        mins   3            15                  2           75- 2             33               -2            33 If minutes number is bigger on the bottom line, convert…Take hour and change to 60 minutes.  Add to other minutes and rewritesum.
Co-ordinationIntroduce (x,y) axisExplain x comes before y in the alphabet.  This will help them remember which comes first.
AreaRectangle/SquareLength x width.  Breadth = width Ares (1 are = 100m, 1 hectare = 10,000m)Relationship of sq.m to sq.cmArea of room from scale plan Surface AreaFind the area of one face.  Count the faces and multiply by no. of facesCube and cuboid.
CircleRadius, diameter, circumference, arc, sector,Relate the diameter of a circle to its circumference by measurement.Measure the circumference of a circle using a piece of string.Construct a circle of given radius/diameterExamine area by counting squares.
LengthIrregular ShapesLook for regular shapes. Divide the shape and draw diagrams.Add areas a, b and c.
Lines and AnglesRight angle, acute, obtuse, reflex, straight, degrees, protractor, ruler
2D Shapes  3ShapesSum of the angles in a triangle = 180Sum of the angles in a quadrilateral = 360Sum of angles in a circle = 360Identify regular tetrahedrons, nets, construct


Number facts up to 10 will be memorised.  Addition facts up to 10 will be memorised by the end of Second Class and multiplication facts up to 12 by the end of Fourth Class.  Both will be revised up to the end of Sixth Class.  Multiplication is a natural progression from extended addition e.g. 3 groups of 3, 4 groups of 3, 5 groups of 3 etc.  Thus tables are recited throughout the school as follows: 3 x 3 = 9 (three threes nine), 4 x 3 = 12 (four threes 12), 5 x 3 = 15 (five threes fifteen).

All teachers are expected to teach tables this way in order to ensure consistency and avoid confusion as children move from one class to the next.  DIVISION TABLES ARE TAUGHT AS THE INVERSE OF MULTIPLICATION AND IN CONJUNCTION WITH MULTIPLICATION TABLES.

A variety of methods will be used including counting 2s, 3s, 4s …, reciting. Subtraction and division tables will be learned as the inverse of addition and multiplication.

Children from 2nd to 6th classes recite their tables regularly and tables are reinforced every day.  Children are encouraged to memorise tables and tables are given every night for homework.  Class teachers identify children having difficulties with tables and with them set realistic targets ensuring steady progression.  These children will have their tables discretely asked every day and are rewarded when targets are reached.