Aboriginal Perspectives


Number Concepts

Jessica Wesaquate


Number (Number concepts)

Grade Level:


Related Video:

Rosella Carney Video 2: Cree Counting (activity 3)



Students will use numbers to describe quantities and represent numbers in multiple ways.

General Outcome:

Describe, orally and compare quantities from 0 to 10, using number words in daily experiences.

Specific Outcomes:

Count the number of objects in a set (0 to 10).


  1. Materials needed: large Popsicle sticks, sharpie marker. Teacher preparation: If you look at the image below you will see some designs used for a stick dice game that originated from the Pomo Indians of California. Click here for more information on this game. Before facilitating this activity you can give them the history on where these sticks originate.

    Your objective is to create a large variety of sticks with differing numbers of x’s/dots/lines/etcetera using Popsicle sticks and a sharpie marker. Make sure you make a double of each design. Make several sticks with five objects on each.

    Flip a stick over and count how many dots or xs are on the stick. Have them flip another stick, how many are on that one? Ask them how many sticks they can find with 5 objects. Have students match sticks that have corresponding numbers.

  2. Materials needed: three physically different containers per student (for some Aboriginal content you could use birch bark containers [used by Beothuk Indians] or ones that look similar), and 10 sticks from activity 1 for each student.

    Have each student grab 12 sticks. Have the students find a place in the classroom to place their baskets and sticks. In their first container have them place six sticks. In their second container have them stick 4 sticks. Ask students if their first or second container has more sticks? You can get a tally from the students by having the students give thumbs up to show you if they thought the first one had more or the second one. For the students who put a thumbs-up ask for the first one ask them why. You can do the reciprocal and ask the students that had their thumbs down as well.

    Have the students put 2 tiles in their third container. Ask them if their third container has more or fewer than their second container. Ask them to explain. Have them place the three containers in order from the smallest amount of sticks to the most amount of sticks. You can also have them show you what order the baskets should be in from most amounts to least.

  3. Everyday activities with the opportunity to incorporate Aboriginal content:

    1. Counting fingers on hands (use an image of a Chief or an Aboriginal child) and have students physically count his/her fingers on the picture. If you choose to use a picture of a Chief you could give them a short biography about him or her.

    2. Blow up a photograph of a traditional Aboriginal family. Have students count the ears of each family member and tell you how many there are in total. Blow up a photograph of a modern Aboriginal family. Have them do the same activity. Talk about the similarities and differences between the photographs (good for closing the gap between the past and present).

    3. Have students find 5 books in the school library that teach about Aboriginal people or legends.

    4. Print off the birch bark biting sample off of our website that shows eight-girls dancing and have students count how many girls dancing they can see.

    5. Using two types of colored beads have students make equal rows of each color. Teach students that Aboriginal peoples see beads as sacred.

    6. Watch Rosella Carney video Cree counting and teach students how to count in Cree from one to ten.