Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Story of Numbers: Great Lesson #5

We have made it to the final Great Lesson in Montessori's Cosmic Education. This fifth and final story is known as The Story of Numbers. It is closely related to the fourth Great Lesson which was The Story of Communication in Signs. First we learned about where the alphabet came from, now we are learning about where our numbers came from. In both lessons, we learn about early civilizations and how they communicated both in their own groups and also with each other.

The Story of Numbers tells us how ancient people kept track of items, time, distance, etc. It is interesting to look back on a time when there was no standardized units for people to compare things. When making a purchase at a market, you could just simply say it costs X amount of dollars or cents, but you would need to determine how much of something else your items were worth. Trade was the first form of currency. It is helpful for children to understand the basics of currency before doing this lesson. My son has been interested in money for quite a while now so he had the basics down. 

There are actually several different stories for this lesson I have found. I looked through my resources and chose the one I liked best. I have in the past used my Montessori R&D manuals for this, but we do not have whichever manual this particular lesson is in (History maybe?). I do like for her Great Lesson pages but her History of Mathematics was much shorter than the others. I decided to use the Story of Numerals from because it had lots of info and some small pictures (the pictures are for me to keep track of the charts).

There are several charts that are used in this lesson to show how numbers changed over time. I had a bit of trouble finding these charts so I would like to share mine with you. I simply drew these out on white card stock (letter size paper) with a black sharpie. They are normally a larger size for classroom use but in the homeschool setting, this was plenty big enough (plus it takes up less room when its sitting on the shelf for follow up use). You can click on the photos below to make them much larger.

Once we finished our story and looked over the charts a bit more, we explored a few library books. I have mentioned before in my posts, we love the library. I love that we can borrow books for free and then not have to store them in our already overflowing bookcases. We can also explore many more than if I were purchasing them. I encourage you to check out your local library for resources. Sometimes we will go through 10 books on a given topic before we find the one gem that has all the info we wanted. Anyway, here are a few that we found helpful.

Roman Numerals by David A. Adler
I love this book! It has lots of examples that help make Roman Numerals easy to understand. There are also some games included to make it fun. It also talks about some of the older number systems. This is an older book, this author has a newer one that may be an updated version. 

Here T is writing numbers on one size of small pieces of paper and Roman Numerals that match on the back. Then he can build numbers and only needs to flip them over to check his work.

The Story of Money by Betsy Maestro
We really enjoyed this book. It showed lots of info on how money came to be.

This is a fun Roman Numerals game that he will be working on Monday morning while B and I are at her toddler music class.  (on a side note, we also love this game from the same blog that is math related Multiplication Area dice game). This game is an intro to adding and subtracting Roman Numerals. 

We had fun learning about the evolution of numbers, ancient civilizations and Roman Numerals. It really feels nice to have finished our Great Lessons for the year. Last year we only made it through the first. I feel like we really accomplished something big this time. Cosmic Education seems like such a wonderful foundation and I have witnessed it in my son over this past year. There have been so many instances where he has learned a new topics and it ties into one of the Great Lessons we have already studied. He loves the fact that he has a reference point for all of these BIG subjects when new details come up.


  1. Wow! Great post. Thanks for sharing your resources!!

  2. The moteaco link does not seem to be working. Can you repost this? Thanks.

    1. The Moteaco site was shut down by the owner :(