Numeracy - a window into God
Here is an assembly idea for sharing something about what Christians believe about God using everyday objects and imagery familiar to children.
You can download a Power Point presentation here.
You will need some examples written out of various number systems used by various civilisations down the years - a good encyclopaedia should have some lists of these; some picture clues for the catchphrases (see below); some large, foam numbers to hold up (1 to 10) such as those available from a toy shop like ELC; a set of numbers written large in digital format which can then be turned upside down (see below); large 'plus, minus, equals, times and divided-by' signs or else the PowerPoint on this, which is also in this website section.
1 Start with a nursery rhyme
One two buckle my shoe
Three four, knock on the door
Five six, pick up sticks
Seven eight, lay them straight
Nine ten, a big fat hen
Did you ever learn that or read it? I'm sure you did - it's one of many number rhymes to help us to learn our numbers.
What about ... 1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive ... or ten green bottles ... or 1 for sorrow, 2 for joy, 3 for a girl, 4 for a boy ... and so on. Numbers are one of the first things you learn - numbers are everywhere.
2 Show some different numbering systems used by various civilisations down the centuries. Maybe some children can copy these out for display beforehand.
Whether they are Hieroglyphic, Hebrew, Arabic or our numbers, societies down the ages and throughout history have developed numbers and depended on numbers. Numbers help things to happen ... giving us quantities for trade, measurements for building, lists for administration. We can't live without numbers.
Ask the children where they see numbers and pick up on their ideas, including some of the following with visual aids if possible
- They are tools for your maths
- They are the codes for our addresses
- They are the frequencies on our radios
- They are the prices on our bills
- They are part of the registrations on our cars
- They are the references on our bank accounts
- They are the marks of a civilised ordered society!
Everything has its number. Have you noticed in the street how every lamp, every man-hole cover, every piece of council property is numbered. One of the marks of the human race is that we are all numbered.
3 And it is not just in written form. We use number expressions in our everyday speech too. Can you think which catchphrase with a number the following clues refer to?
Select from the following, reading out the clue to the phrase each time, along with some sort of visual clue, just like on the television quiz
- Returning to where you started = Back to Square One
- Hypocrite, insincere = Two-faced
- Traditional chorus of congratulations = Three Cheers
- Rude speech = Four-Lettered Words
- A punch with the fist = A Bunch of Fives
- Having a break = Take Five
- To be in a mess = To be at Sixes and Sevens
- One drink too many = One Over the Eight
- Very, very happy = On Cloud Nine
- Headgear for a cowboy = A Ten-gallon Hat
4 And not surprisingly numbers often have special secret meanings. In the Bible many numbers have this sort of deeper significance. Here are some: Hold up large versions of the numbers in question
- 1 is unity. The character of God
- 2 is male and female created for partnership. Also the animals going 2 by 2 into the ark
- 3 is the perfect number of God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
- 6 is the number for human beings who were created on the 6th day
- 7 is heaven, where the Seven Spirits of God dwell
- 8 is rescue, because there were 8 in the ark.
- 9 are the gifts of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22)
- 10 is God's Basics - the Ten Commandments.
5 Numbers have messages. Here are a group of numbers but which also spell words. Can you work out how? Show the children these digital numbers
(4519918) (5537937) (35339) (7735) (0.0791) (45075) (3180009)
The clue is in the digital style in which they are written. If you turn the numbers upside down, they spell words and make this strange sentence!
Biggish legless geese sell igloo slosh, goodbie
You can try it for yourself on a calculator. I wonder whether you can think of some more?
6 Here's my calculator and here is a number message. Can you see what it spells? Invite children to come up and look. Then write it up large for all to see.
Yes - BIBLE. Actually, I think my calculator is a bit like my Bible. Not just because of all the numbers it contains but because of the special signs that it uses to link those numbers.
÷ divided by
As I finish let me explain how these signs remind me of the message of the Bible.
See also the PowerPoint that is available in this section of the website and which shows how the good news can be presented using mathematical symbols.
- = reminds me that we are all equal in the sight of God. He loves us all equally
- - minus reminds me of the negative side of human nature - the bad side of you and me and what the Bible calls sin, that needs to be taken away.
- ÷ the divide sign reminds me that what we do wrong divides us from God and from each other. But God still loves us and longs that each one of us share in being close to him again.
- the plus sign reminds me of the cross at the heart of the Bible story. The place where Jesus did take away our sin, when we put our trust in Him and add our lives to His
- x the times sign reminds me of the way God is willing to multiply to me strength and help through His Holy Spirit; all the help I need for each day.
So even in my numeracy lesson I can hear God speaking to me, through numbers and through my calculator.
So, remember the Bible number and the message of the signs God has for us.
7 Here is a prayer, if appropriate.
Thank you Father for the gift of numbers and they way you have helped us to invent things to make life run more smoothly. Help us not to forget the truths behind the numbers and the truth of the signs, which point us back to a friendship with you, available for all every day. Amen