Mathematical Terminology Used More Often Than We Think?

My first Maths and Science input of semester 2 with Tara made me challenge my way of thinking or as I thought the normal way of thinking.

When talking in social situations or even just reading  simple stories it is apparent that mathematical terminology is at the forefront of them.  In this lecture, Tara read us a story and asked us to think of the words she said and to write down the mathematical terms in a list on our page. Originally I only counted 10-15 words of this type but after it was explained I had the realisation that mathematical terminology is not only words associated with number, but size, positioning etc. Realising this made me feel the need to look closer at other children’s stories and rhymes.

I decided to look at This nursery rhyme in particular because numbers are prominent here and frankly to begin with I didnt think there would be many more terms other than the numbers 1-10.

I was wrong…

In this early childhood song not only do children use mathematical terminology with the numbers 1-10. There is also terminology used to describe positioning and size. I will use bold on the font to highlight the mathematical terminology.


One, two, three, four, five,

Once I caught a fish alive,

Six, seven, eight, nine, ten,

Then I let it go again.

Why did you let it go?

Because it bit my finger so.

Which finger did it bite?

This little finger on the right.


2 thoughts on “Mathematical Terminology Used More Often Than We Think?

  1. Sandra

    An interesting reflection Samantha. I agree that the vocabulary of mathematics surrounds us in everyday life. Even for words like net, volume and face children need to understand both a mathematical and non-mathematical meaning.

    I think in your nursery rhyme ‘once’ is also mathematical terminology. It is ordinal language.


  2. Tara Harper

    You do realise that now I’ve pointed out the prevalence of mathematical vocabulary in everyday speech you’ll be analysing every word people say to you! I’m sure that won’t be true but it is an important thing to think about, particularly when use you vocabulary with the children in class. The words we use might make the difference between a child understanding or being confused for a long time by a simple off the cuff remark.
    No pressure then!


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