Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Roman Toothpicks

MAdele Carson
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students make a chart comparing Roman numerals and our number system using toothpicks and construction paper.


The student recognizes and compares the decimal number system to the structure of other number systems such as the Roman numeral system or bases other than ten.


-Flat Toothpicks (100 per child) (Flat toothpicks won't roll!)
-Dark construction paper (18in x 24 in) (It shows the toothpicks better!)
-Chalkboard and chalk or dry-erase board and markers


1. Gather materials.


1. Begin the lesson with a review of Roman numerals. Where have the students seen these numerals- -end of movie credits, on backs of videos, Super Bowls?

2. Using the board and chalk or markers and erase board, list the Roman numerals by asking the students for help.

3. Changes in Roman numerals (40, 50, 90, and 100) are shown and students are asked to practice Roman numerals (251, 89, 43, etc.)

4. Students practice on the board by writing numbers down and having others guess the number.

5. Using toothpicks and glue, each child will make a chart on construction paper of Arabic numerals with their corresponding Roman numerals.

6. Using the chalkboard or dry erase board, students take turns writing Roman numerals in simple fact problems. (X + I = ?)

7. Students’ Roman numeral charts will be used for assessment.


1. Students will be assessed on their toothpick charts* and the correct Arabic/Roman numeral correspondence.
2. When I have done this with my students, the number of numerals I've requested will determine the point value for each.
3. G.L.E- The 3rd grade student compares the decimal (base 10) number system to the Roman numeral system using the Roman numerals I, V, X, L, and C.
4. The 4th grade student reads, writes, and compares the decimal number system to the Roman numeral system using the Roman numerals I, V, X, L, C, D, and M.
*The students will write the Arabic numerals and glue the Roman numbers (toothpicks) next to them.


1. Model the hand motions so that the children will know that 1, 2, and 3 fingers are fingers together; the 5 is a “v” or peace sign and that the hands are from the child’s perspective. For example, IV (4) will have the left index finger pointing up and the right index and middle fingers as a “v”.
To the tune of “Ten Little Indians” students sing the Roman numerals from one to ten while holding up the appropriate fingers showing the correct Roman numerals (V for five, crossed fingers for 10).
One Roman, two Roman, three Roman numerals, four Roman, five Roman, six Roman numerals, seven Roman, eight Roman, nine Roman numerals, this is ten in Roman numerals!

2. Students use Roman numerals to write the day’s date, their birth dates, the room number, their telephone numbers, or the zip code of the school.

3. Review outlining of chapters or papers using Roman numerals.

4. Using die-cut letters, make many capital -V,- -I,- -X,- -C,- and -M's.- In small groups, the students will use these Roman numerals. The group members can check their accuracy.

Web Links

Roman Numeral Conversion

Attached Files

A reference list of the Roman Numerals 1-100 and 1000 .     File Extension: pdf

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