Roman numerals and other number systems

I recently created a worksheet generator for Roman numerals. Feel free to use it.

Roman numerals is not any major topic in the math curriculum. They are still used in clocks, to number chapters of a book, write year numbers, and such, so students need to study them, even if just briefly. Fortunately it isn't that difficult a topic.

Many youngsters might, in fact, be interested in learning about different number systems that have been used in various civilizations over the centuries.

I just posted about writing in math class, and this topic would make for an excellent writing project that connects math, writing, and history. Then you wouldn't be doing it just for the sake of learning the math, or the historical facts, but also to practice writing a report or an essay.

It's probably the easiest to work into the curriculum if you're homeschooling, because classroom teachers may have to just kind of scurry by the Roman numerals on into the next topic. But even if you're a teacher, consider printing out a few interesting articles about the various number systems, such as the Mayan, the Egyptian, or the Babylonian, and then giving these printed articles as extra reading to kids who might be interested in such.

Ideas for a writing project on number systems

  1. A report on Mayan, Babylonian, Egyptian, or Chinese numbers. Even younger students could probably write a few sentences and give a few examples of their numbers. You can easily find articles to print about them on the Internet. Wikipedia is a good starting point.

  2. Another writing idea is to study several number systems at once, and write a "comparison report" where you compare these other systems to our current number system, which is called the Indian-Arabic number system.

    Some main points for such comparison are:

    * How many symbols are used?
    * Are they used additively? Or is it a positional system?
    Or a mixture of both?
    * What are the bases used? (could be 10, 20, 60)
    * How easy is it to perform the basic four operations?

  3. Yet a third way is to write a report about base 2 numeral system and systems with other bases. This would work best with middle and high schoolers, and should appeal to any computer science minded folks, BTW, because computers use base 2 in their "internal workings".

Some resources

Use these web sites to get you started.

Roman Matching Game
Drag the Roman numerals to the corresponding Arabic numerals. If you win the next game will be faster. See if you can beat the clock!

Roman Numerals - Wikipedia
An article explaining the usage, origin, and a chart of Roman numerals.

A comprehensive website about various number systems, such as the Egyptian, Babylonian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, Mayan, and Arabic.

Numeral Systems - Wikipedia
Wikipedia article on numeral systems, which contains links to Hindu-Arabic systems, Asian numerals, Alphabetic numerals such as Greek or Hebrew, and other systems including Mayan, Roman, and Babylonian.

Mayan Mathematics


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