FROM THE BOOK ABOUT KIND MATHS
page 2 of 3
through a moral fairy tale
A STORY ABOUT NUMBERS
Six was busy watering some flowers, and was so preoccupied
that he was quite startled when he heard an unfamiliar
voice saying Please tell me where the numbers live.
Six turned round and saw a nice looking oval shape.
I was sent here
by Her Majesty, the Queen of Maths, - explained
the oval shape. - If I'm not mistaken wasn't it
you who wrote to Her Majesty asking for help?
- Yes it was,
- replied Six. - We wrote asking her to teach us
how to count up to big numbers. For example, last
year many beautiful flowers were in bloom in my
garden but I was unable to count them. We have all
been getting very upset when we were unable to count
certain things! - Six explained.
Don't be upset,
I'll be able to help you with that problem, - the
oval shape consoled Six.
up everyone, a most important number has arrived
to visit us today! - called out Six excitedly.
Straight away all the numbers gathered round the visitor.
- My name is Zero,
- the visitor said, introducing himself to everybody.
- Oh, you are
so round! - said Three admiringly.
- How high can
you count? - asked Nine, who was the most excited
- I m afraid I
can't count anything at all, - replied Zero with
a big sigh.
- You can't even
count a single tree? - asked One somewhat confused.
No, I really can't
count anything at all, - replied Zero again.
The numbers didn't
know what to think. At last Nine, who was very wise,
hit on the solution. - Doubtless there's some mystery
here, otherwise the Queen wouldn't have sent him
to us. Let's build him a small house in town, and
until then he can stay with each one of us in turn.
Let him stay with you first, One. Take our guest
home so he can rest. He must be very tired after
such a long journey.
Oh, look! Some
sparrows have arrived! - exclaimed Five. - Let's
try to count them right away.
There are exactly
ten of them! - said One and Zero in chorus, passing
by the sparrows.
- How did you
manage to count all those birds so quickly? - asked
Five very surprised
Actually we ourselves
are astonished by this just as much as you. We don't
know ourselves how it happened, - answered One and
Zero in chorus again. - As soon as we stood next
to each other, to our surprise we became TEN.
All the numbers were astonished at this amazing news.
- Quite extraordinary!
- said Nine. - If Zero stands next to a number,
he multiplies it ten times. We'll have to check
up on this.
Just at that moment
Five whispered something to One, who straight away
let go of Zero. Five quickly approached Zero and
stood next to him. He burst out laughing in delight.
Look at this - I have checked already. I got so
large! I'm not Five anymore but five tens, making
us Fifty. It's great. All the numbers got agitated
at this and they all wanted to stand next to Zero
to experience these new possibilities. Two lifted
Zero above the clouds and turned into Twenty. Three
treated Zero to some of his cakes and turned into
Thirty. Four discussed with Zero what kind of house
he would like to have and, of course, he turned
into a Forty. But Nine noticed that Zero was so
tired he was almost falling over and said sternly,
- One! Take our guest home. He is barely still alive.
One took the visitor by the hand and left with him proudly. All the remaining numbers went home as well, envying One for his luck.
Questions arising from the Story
- How does the character of Zero differ from the others?
- How does Zero change when he forms tens with the other numbers?
- What kind of house do you think the numbers will build for Zero?
- In what season are there zero degrees outside?
- When somebody says zero hours, why isn't this time shown on clocks?
- What does the expression -a
complete nothing - mean?
- Can anybody be a complete nothing ?
Activity Play - Who needs the Zero?
Split up the children into groups of three. Let each of them play the role of Zero, and the others any other two numbers. In the play the children should make up a reason why they should turn into tens, and persuade Zero to stand next to them. Zero should only stand next to that number whose argument seemed the most convincing.
Drawing a Portrait of Zero
The children pick cards on which different mood are written. For example: thoughtful, joyful, sad, angry. Then they draw a picture of Zero when he is in that particular mood.
Game: Whoever Meets Zero
Let one of the
children play the role of Zero. The others hold
cards with different numbers on them from one to
nine. Zero says, - Whoever meets Zero will multiply
by ten! Zero then names two children saying, - So
and so and so and so - hold up your cards. The two
children named lift up their cards and Zero has
to tell which number they will become if he is put
next to them.
Draw or write down the names of all the things at home which look like Zero.
Try and make up a story with Zero in it and how he makes friends with these things at home.
Task on the Homework
The Children tell
their stories in turn. All the stories are compiled
into a book called - Who is Zero's Friend?