# Any challenging ideas or resources for teaching Roman Numerals?

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An unseasonal "spring-cleaning" of my son's hutch a couple days ago lead to or discovery of a cool spinning-top that's designed to have the tip spin in a tiny little "cup" that sits on a spindle. When the top stops it usually falls over, but not out of the cup, and the top "points" at a Roman Numeral below.

Anyway, my son was having fun with the top (as a top) but then asked what the symbols meant. I said they are Roman Numerals. He said they were on the clock, too. I asked if he wanted to learn them. He said sure.

So I gave him a brief explanation. He seemed to follow. So I gave him a written test :D

Meanie that I am, I gave him 3 simple numbers (like XXVI) and 3 hard ones (like XLXXIV). The first time he figured out the easy ones but got "hard ones" all wrong, as I suspected he might.

But then he said, "give me some more." Well, even when I started throwing in "new" numbers like D and M I could not stump him no matter how hard I tired. It was spooky. We had only been at this for 10 or 15 minutes.

Yesterday, I made up some sheets with some hard and some easy mental math addition and subtraction questions, and those were a fun challenge.

Now I'm wondering what else one might do to make Roman Numerals fun and instructive. Got any ideas? I need "challenging!"

Bill

Edited by Spy Car
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Meanie that I am, I gave him 3 simple numbers (like XXVI) and 3 hard ones (like XLXXIV). The first time he figured out the easy ones but got "hard ones" all wrong, as I suspected he might.

I don't get it. XLXXIV isn't a valid Roman Numeral. It uses the same symbols as Roman Numerals, but you can't have an X both before and after the L. You could have "XLIV" (44) or "LXXIV" (74).

There's not much more to Roman Numerals.

The only letters are I, V, X, L, C, D, and M.

Multiplication or division with Roman Numerals is pointless.

The most useful applications of Roman Numerals are

- clocks

- chapter numbers

- page numbers before "1" in books

- dates on movies

- outlining

- some sundials

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I don't get it. XLXXIV isn't a valid Roman Numeral.

True. My example is embarassingy sloppy. I'd have been "busted" by the kiddo too. Egads, I watt to car awl under a rock. :lol:

I still need some good ideas (or for this thread to die quickly :tongue_smilie:).

Still

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I have no suggestions for Roman Numerals, but when you are done with that you can try Mayan numbers for fun.

http://library.thinkquest.org/J0112511/mayan_number.htm

Those look fun.

Bill

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In Waldorf education they start the kids out with Roman numerals. So the first problems the children are solving are ones with Roman numerals. I like the story that they teach the children.

The teacher brings in a long stick and ask the children how many is it? They say 1. You draw a the Roman numeral for 1 and maybe something like a circle if you wanted to review geometry. Then you break the stick in half. Now you have 2. You write the Roman numeral for 2 and a line.

Then you break one of the sticks in 2 and you have 3. This time you draw a triangle. Then 4 with a square or rectangle. When you get to 5, you're just like this is so many to keep track of. You know, when I hold all my fingers on one hand up my pointer finger and thumb make a "v." Let's use "V" for 5. With 5 you start drawing stars--the 5 pointed one.

And it goes on from there. It is a fun story. From there the children learn about the 4 operations and use Roman numerals much of the time to solve problems and move onto arabic later on because they are more abstract while the Romans have good connections to the physical world.

Have fun! There are a lot of fun books for Roman numerals too.:001_smile:

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This is an excellent book

Roman Numerals I to MM

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For myself, I've had fun experimenting with figuring out algorithms for the basic operations, seeing how being in a non-place value system changes things. Addition was easy, subtraction fairly so, and it was kind of neat to see how in multiplication you can just do basically the same thing - multiply each digit in one number by each digit in the other and sum the results - only you don't have to keep track of place value (though there might be a better way). I never did find a viable division method - ended up googling for that ;). Maybe I'm just a nut :D, but I actually did this for fun one day in college :tongue_smilie: - I was curious as to how you'd make it work. (I think back in the day they just used counting boards and abacuses, which is undoubtedly easier, but less geeky fun :lol:.)

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