The road to mastering maths: Grade 1 milestones

The road to mastering maths: Grade 1 milestones

Part 3: Mathematics: Geometry, Measurement and Data Handling

Grade 1 Milestones

We have been looking at the milestones for grade 1’s. Last month we covered their development in numbers, relationships, patterns and other math landmarks.  We have also looked at Grade 1 speaking, reading and writing milestones.

This month we continue with mathematics. We will look at what Grade 1’s learn about Geometry, Measurement and Data Handling.

Section 1: Grade 1’s and Geometry

Each grade focuses on new properties of shapes and objects. They consider features not covered previously. This is the main way that progression is achieved in each year of the Foundation Phase.


Position: Language, views and directions

Grade 1’s continue to learn how to describe an object’s position. When seeing shapes, they can tell which shapes are positioned above or below other shapes. First graders can identify everyday objects from different views. They are also able to match these views with objects.

First graders can follow instructions on how to place something in relation to something else. They could put an eraser in front of or next to or behind the sharpener if told to do so. They can also move around the classroom following directions.

Objects: Features and Range

Grade 1’s can identify 3-D objects in the classroom and pictures. In Grade 1 they can tell what spheres and prisms are. These are objects shaped like balls and boxes.

A Grade 1 can consider objects that slide compared to objects that roll. They can sort 3-D and 2-D objects in terms of colour and size.

Grade 1’s will recognise flat shapes: squares, triangles and circles. They can tell when a shape has round or straight sides.

A first grader can use construction kits and recycling material. They can build with blocks. Using these resources they can build 3-D objects they have observed.


When looking at a shape, a grade 1 will recognise if it is symmetrical or not. They can see the symmetry in their own bodies. In 2-D shapes they can draw lines of symmetry. This means they can draw a line on a shape where both sides of the line would be the mirror image of the other side.


Section 2: Grade 1’s and Measurement

Learners are taught how to measure each year by introducing new forms of measurement. In grade 1, measurement is still with informal tools, which prepares them for measuring instruments. These are introduced in second and third grade.

Students learn problem solving and computation for measurement. This process takes into account the students’ progress with numbers.


First graders will grow in their understanding of the passage of time. They also become more adept at telling time.

This is achieved in a few ways. The students learn to order normal events from their own experience. They learn to use words like tomorrow, today and yesterday.  These are used to sequence events. Students also learn to contrast and compare time frames. The language to do this includes vocabulary such as “longer”, “slower”, “faster” and “shorter”. They will be able to say that their favourite tv show is shorter than their favourite movie, and so forth.

Grade 1s learn to arrange days and months sequentially. They can also confidently name the months and days.  They will put their correct birthday on the calendar. When describing an event they can say whether it was during the night, the morning or the afternoon. They also grasp the idea of late and early.

Informal Measuring

Length: For length, informal measuring makes use of hand spans, counters, pencil lengths and so forth. Grade 1s learn to measure and estimate, using these for comparison. They can also record lengths and order items in relation to these.

First graders can give the description of an object’s length using such informal units.   Grade 1s can talk about which object is wider, shorter, longer or taller. They could also put objects in ascending or descending order according to one of these traits.

Mass: First graders will also learn to weigh objects. They can use a balancing scale. They are able to measure objects according to mass and record the results. The objects commonly measured are items such as bricks and blocks. The children can then use these as informal measurements. So they might say that something weighs about the same as, or more than, two bricks.

When it comes to mass, the children will also be able to talk about objects comparatively. They can use words and ideas such as “heavy”, “heavier” and “heaviest”, and also the converse: “light”, “lighter” and “lightest”.

Grade 1s also learn to estimate the comparable weight of different objects.

Counting Grade 1 MilestonesVolume/Capacity:  First graders are capable of seeing how much liquid is held in one container, compared to another. This is what volume is. They are taught to tell which container has more liquid.

One of the exercises is for them to put the liquid of two containers into a third. In this way they can check to see if their estimations are correct.

They are taught the language of making such comparisons. They begin to use words such as “full” and “empty”, “less than” and “more than”.  First graders can put containers in order of how much each receptacle holds.

The grade 1 class will be able to use the informal measurements to describe a container’s capacity. For example, they could say that it will take four cups to fill to fill a bottle.

These are examples of the non-standard measurements that grade 1’s learn to use.  They can begin to estimate and compare capacity in terms of spoons or cups and so forth. With these concepts in mind they can put containers into order and record how much each can hold.

Grade ones do not yet begin calculations for perimeter and area of objects. That begins in grade 2.


Section 3: Grade 1’s and Data Handling

During the foundation phase, students move towards working with data from working with objects. The aim is to have them working with representations of data. Examples of these representations include working graphs.

Common objects: Collecting and organising, reporting and discussing

This begins by collecting and sorting common objects that can be found in the classroom, at home or in the playground. They will be able to draw a picture of their collection of objects.

Grade 1s could then have a discussion about what they have collected. They will learn to explain why they arranged the items as they did. The process could be described and explained. They will also learn to think about and answer questions about what the final arrangement looks like. This is the beginning of understanding the process and product in data handling. Explanations for how the collection has been sorted can be given. The collection can be drawn and described.

Data/Information: Collecting and organising, analysing and interpreting

As the year progresses, the first graders can gather information about the school and/or class. The teacher will be able to ask questions about it. The students will be able to answer the questions and explain the data.

Grade 1’s will be able to show information in basic pictographs. They will also be able to understand and discuss the information that a simple pictograph gives them.

Japari – committed to numerate children

Japari has and always will be passionate about seeing children able to do mathematics. We integrate technology to supplement the core program. This includes specific math programs to see them grow in their grasp of the content.

We are committed to holistic education and are equipped to prepare students with solid foundations in maths. We also have the specific skills required to help children who might have particular difficulties with numbers.

We look forward to seeing your children excel at maths in the foundation phase. This will set them up for success even beyond their school careers.

Bibliography/Further Reading




Data Handling: