The Fifth Great Lesson, “The Story of Numbers,” is a journey through the history of mathematics, exploring the development of numeric systems from their earliest origins to the decimal system used today. From simple counting methods to complex mathematical concepts, this lesson unfolds the fascinating evolution of numbers and their significance in shaping the modern world. Through this exploration, children will delve into the study of mathematics, numbers, geometry, and practical applications, equipping them with essential problem-solving and analytical skills.

The Story of Numbers

Our mathematical journey begins with the earliest civilizations, where counting was limited to “one,” “two,” and “more than two.” As societies evolved, the need for more sophisticated numeric systems emerged. Ancient civilizations developed unique methods to represent larger quantities, such as tally marks and pebbles.

The discovery of place value was a revolutionary step in the history of numbers. It allowed for the representation of larger numbers using a base system, where the position of a digit determines its value. Various civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Mayans, devised their own base systems.

The exploration of different numbering systems throughout the centuries, including the Babylonian base-60 system and the Roman numerals, demonstrates the ingenuity of ancient mathematicians. The concept of zero, introduced by Indian mathematicians, was a transformative milestone that paved the way for advanced mathematical operations.

Eventually, the decimal system, with its ten-base and positional notation, emerged as a universal means of counting and calculation. This system forms the foundation of modern mathematics and is used worldwide.

The Study of Numbers


Students delve into the realm of mathematics, exploring operations, fractions, decimals, multiples, squares, cubes, percentages, ratio, probability, and an introduction to algebra. Through problem-solving and practical applications, children develop critical thinking skills and a deeper understanding of numerical concepts.


The study of numbers encompasses their origins, different numbering systems, bases, types of numbers, and scientific notation. Children learn about influential mathematicians who have shaped the field of mathematics.


Geometry introduces students to concepts of congruency, similarity, and the nomenclature of lines, angles, shapes, and solids. Measurement and theorems deepen their understanding of spatial relationships and geometric principles.


Practical applications of mathematics come to life through story problems, measurement, estimation, graphs, patterning, rounding, and money concepts. Children gain confidence in applying mathematical principles to real-world scenarios.


“The Story of Numbers” in the Fifth Great Lesson is a captivating exploration of the history and significance of mathematics in human civilization. Through the study of mathematics, numbers, geometry, and practical applications, Montessori students develop strong problem-solving and analytical skills, essential for navigating the complexities of the modern world. This lesson ignites a passion for discovery and a love for numbers, equipping children with the tools to explore the wonders of mathematics and its applications in various disciplines.