Aboriginal Perspectives


Number Concepts

Jessica Wesaquate


Number (Number concepts)

Grade Level:




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

General Outcome:

Recognize and apply whole numbers from 0 to 100, and explore halves, in familiar settings.

Specific Outcomes:

  1. Represent and describe numbers to 50 in a variety of ways.

  2. Explore the representation of numerals (0 to 50), using a calculator or a computer to display numerals.

  3. Demonstrate, and explain orally, an understanding of halves as part of a shape or solid.


See each individual activity


  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, and two sticks that can add up to sixteen; three sticks that can add up to 16, four sticks that can add up to 16.

    Have students find:

    -Two sticks whose counters add up to 16

    -Three sticks whose counters add up to 16 and four sticks whose counters add up to 16.

    Have students find the most sticks that can be used to make a total of 16 counters.

  2. Give student the following materials: sticks (from activity 1), small stones (natural manipulative, used by First Nations people in traditional games teaching things like eye-hand coordination), and beads (using in Aboriginal regalia). Have them use these materials to demonstrate 23 in as many different ways as possible.

  3. Materials needed: Click here for a print-off of pictographs.

    Pictographs have been used by Indigenous people in different parts of the world to tell stories and to remember things like historical events. For example, when Europeans brought small pox to First Nations people, one of the pictographs demonstrated a stick person with red dots all over the person.

    Have students choose and circle 23 images. They will use these 23 images to write their own story. Have student volunteers share story with their peers. Have students write the number 23 in different ways as well.

  4. Social Studies Introduction: Ask students if they have ever heard of Piapot reserve? It is located about 40 minutes North of Regina, Saskatchewan. This reserve is named after Chief Piapot. He and his grandmother lived with the Sioux Indians until he was 14 years old. His knowledge of being Sioux helped him in his role as Cree chief of Piapot.

    Materials needed: Calculator or computer.

    Ask students which buttons they have to push to show 40 on their calculator or computer screen (to represent time it takes to get from Regina to Piapot First Nation). Have them show you 14 (to describe age Chief Piapot lived with the Sioux until) and its reciprocal 41. They can also show you what number to press to show you four more than three and three less than eight. These two numbers represent two treaties that can be found in Canada.

  5. Materials needed: Calculators for the class (or computers). Print off copies of Rosella Carney’s birch bark biting print demonstrating eight girls dancing. Have students push the following numbers on their calculators:

    -Numbers of corners on a birch bark biting.

    -Number of girls dancing; add 8

    -Other ideas