Four-Digit Numerals

Alison Kimbley


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Subject Area:




Grade Level:


Content (topic):

Exploring Numbers up to 10 000


Outcome N4.1:

Demonstrate an understanding of whole numbers to 10 000 (pictorially, physically, orally, in writing, and symbolically) by:  Representing, describing, comparing and ordering.


  1. Read a four-digit numeral without using the word “and.”

  2. Write a numeral using proper spacing without commas.

  3. Represent a number from 0 – 10 000 in words.

  4. Represent a numeral using a place value chart or diagrams.
  1. Explain and show the meaning of each digit in a 4-digit numeral with all digits the same (e.g., for the numeral 2222, the first digit represents two thousands, the second digit two hundreds, the third digit two tens, and the fourth digit two ones).

  2. Explain the meaning of each digit in a 4-digit number representing a particular quantity.

Mathematical Processes:


Lesson Preparation

Equipment/ materials:
  • A loom
  • A set of pony beads.
  • Wool

Advanced Preparation:

  • Read the background information on looms and beads.
  • *Instructions for making a loom*
  • Learn how to bead the loom.
  • Change the number of beads on the loom to represent a number or, if more than one loom is available, have them prepared ahead of time.



  • Discuss the significance of beads with the students. For example, beading has been an important part of First Nations culture for approximately 8 000 years prior to European contact. Beads were made of shell, pearl, bone, teeth, stone, and fossil stems. Glass beads became a part of First Nation and Métis culture when the explorers came from Europe and brought seed and glass beads as trading items.

  • Explain to students that each tribe had distinct designs, patterns, and approaches; therefore, collections of First Nations beadwork art includes many different designs, styles, traditions and stitches. In Saskatchewan, the Plains Cree People use a lot of symmetry in their patterns as well as distinctive geometrical shapes.

  • Show the students the wooden loom. Explain that a lot of First Nations beadwork was done on looms, which were made from wood in a variety of sizes depending on the piece or artwork.

  • Have the students to compare the loom to a set of numbers where each of the four threads on the loom represents a value. For example, the first out of the four threads or wool is in the spot of the thousands, whereas the third string symbolizes the hundreds, etc.

  • Next, explain that the beads on each string will represent a numerical value; therefore, if five beads are on the fourth string, the beads will stand for the number five.

  • Use the loom to place beads vertically with a specific number of beads on each thread and show the students and have them wait for thirty seconds (to ensure all students have the opportunity to view and process the number) and as a class say the number aloud. Ensure that the number is repeated and if you hear an “and” for the configuration (e.g., seven thousand one hundred AND twenty four), remind students this is wrong and repeat until the word “and” is no longer used.
loom with beads
  • Next have the students write the numbers in their math books.  As you are changing numbers on the loom remind students that they should not be using commas but instead use the proper spacing. Among the examples you present to the students ensure that at least one has all the digits the same, for example 2222, and at least one has zero as one of the digits, for example 2031.

  • If students seem to understand this concept, adding an additional string to the loom can extend this lesson. Ask the students what place value the first string will then represent? (Ten thousands.)