Tag Archives: Curious George

Real Arabic numbers

Although our Western system of numbers is sometimes called “Arabic numbers” to distinguish from Roman numerals, in the Arabic language the numbers are written like this.  In the picture the numbers from 1 through 6 are on top from right to left (the way Arabic is written) and 7 through 10 are on the bottom.  This is actually a repurposed ice cube tray and will be used for number games.

This idea was adapted from A Muslim Child is Born, whose thoughtful and informative posts have terrific ideas for everyone.


The Arabs brought the numbers from India and introduced the zero symbol, which was a huge advance in thinking, simplifying math and making arithmetic possible for everyone.  With Roman numerals anything more sophisticated than using them for counting or labeling must have been the province of the super smart.  Quick, what’s XX minus VII?  Why XIII of course!  Dr. Jim Al-Khalili explains it all much better than I can in Science & Islam, which you can watch here:

Currently I’m working on matching as pre-counting, particularly five because it’s useful to understand that everyone has the same number of fingers.  So whenever we read Curious George and the Dump Truck, we put a finger on each of the five ducklings.


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