Numeracy ideas across the curriculum

We often hear that numeracy, like literacy, is everyone’s business. With that in mind, here are a few of my favourite ideas for opportunities to emphasise numeracy within specialist lessons. I find that thinking about possibilities beforehand allows us to anticipate and make the best use of opportunities. Here are some idea starters, questions, and even topics where numeracy naturally fits. I hope you find them helpful!    Tierney

Running any lesson:

  • How much time do we have left?
  • How many ___ do we need? E.g. equipment
  • Make sure you have enough space to work.
  • First, second, third (e.g. steps to complete)
  • Vocabulary: more, less, compare, same, different, amount, time, difference, “about” this much, fair, share, pattern, distance


  • Measuring: distance, temperature, time, volume/capacity
  • Calculating: Comparing measurements, averaging, how many (floated/sunk)
  • Displaying: graphing results (reading graphs and scales), scales, tables, tallies
  • Traits as dominant/ recessive and proportions/probability with two-way table (XY XX)
  • Rounding and moving into significant figure
  • Using formulas (speed = distance/time, force = mass x acceleration) – this is algebra. Substitution.
  • Rates: temp increase per minute, speed…
  • Ratios in chemistry and cooking
  • Weather and likelihood (50% chance of rain today… climate)
  • How many…? More or less?
  • How far? How hot/cold? Difference?
  • Scales: what is it between? Why the different measurements? Precision instruments. Solar system scale…
  • What is a reasonable answer? Too high? Too low? Range? Average?
  • What if we change _____, what happens? How do we know?


  • Pattern of notes and half notes in a scale. Same with chords (e.g. don’t want notes that are one note apart… minor vs major).
  • Rhythm of beats per bar and counting in time (quarter notes…).
  • Time signatures (faster, slower as beats per minute).
  • Louder, softer (not related to time, but to volume).
  • Sharps and flats as half note shifts.
  • Repeating patterns (e.g. two bars that are used multiple times, a chorus, actions in a dance…) is part of algebra.

Visual Arts:

  • Symmetrical and asymmetrical design
  • Representing 3D objects using perspective in a 2D format. Foreshortening, vanishing points, top/side views, what you can actually see, negative space
  • Shapes, patterns and motif in design (geometric vs naturalistic)
  • Ratios in paint mixing etc.
  • Sculpture: balance, mass, 3D shapes (round, square, diagonal)
  • Ceramics: closed and open shapes, too thick walls leads to kiln explosions, length of snakes for coil pots, shrinkage


  • Distance for running/field/throws/jumps…
  • Time and speed, comparing times, improving and personal best
  • Angle (throw, jump, power for speedy starts…), spins, height
  • Measuring power, strength, flexibility…
  • Rates (speed, push ups per minute, heart rate…)
  • Spatial awareness in team games and where to get to to catch the ball.


  • Day name, date and time
  • Counting and number words including age
  • Situations such as buying items from shops
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