Ancient Romans used a special method of writing numbers call Roman numerals. They are not used as often in the modern times, but it is an important skill we should teach our kids. Yet, it can be a tricky thing to understand.
Roman Numerals Printables
Roman numerals are something that can be difficult for kids to grasp. Using fun Roman numeral printables can be a helpful tool to reinforce concepts. Be sure to scroll down and grab our free Roman Numerals Printable Activty Pack.
Roman Numerals Can Be Tricky
Take the Roman numeral 4 for example, it is actually written and read a few different ways.
When I was growing up, I always recognized that the 4 Roman numeral was to be written as IV. It makes sense to write it this way because the Roman numeral 5 is written as the letter V symbol. This is how it is normally taught in any math lessons as well.
Now, if you look at the hours on a Roman numeral clock you will see the number 4 written with the use of IIII instead. This can be a bit confusing for children trying to understand this type of numeral system.
How do you read Roman numerals?
Roman numerals are written and read from left to right. Here are the basic rules to remember how to read a Roman numeral:
- When a symbol is of less value than the one after it, you will subtract the smaller numeral from the larger numeral. IV: I=1, V=5, so you subtract 1 from 5: IV= 4
- When the symbol is equal or greater in value that the one after it, all you do is add the two together. VI: V=5, I=6, so you add 1 to 5: VI= 6
Most Common Roman Numerals
The most common use of Roman numerals still in use today are I, V, X, L, C, D and M, translating to the numbers 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000.
You will see Roman numerals used for the Super Bowl and Olympic Games. It’s a good idea to become familiar with them. You can use our Roman numerals chart below for a quick reference.
Free Roman Numerals Chart
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post and learn how to get access to our free Roman Numerals worksheets, charts, and cards.
Why do clocks and watches use the Roman numeral IIII instead of IV?
If you have a roman numeral clock in your house, go ahead and take a look at it. Do you notice anything different? You will notice that most clock faces and even a watch face that has Roman numerals on it use the four-character form IIII.
One of the only clocks you will not see this on is London’s Big Ben which uses IV.
Roman Numerals on Clocks
The numbers you’ll see on a clock with Roman numerals are written out as I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI and XII.
If the Roman numeral 4 is written as the smaller number IV, then why did clock makers write it the other way?
There is no definitive answer, but there are some possible explanations. Your kids are going to get a kick out of some of these theories. Read them, talk about them and decide which one they believe to be true.
They didn’t want to upset Jupiter, the god of the sky.
Romans never did see a mechanical clock built in their age, but they were used to using a sun dial as a watch. These even had Roman numerals on them. So, watch making was a form of astronomy which has lots of ties to Roman mythology.
The Roman god Jupiter was a Latin word. It had a long Latin name that was normally abbreviated with letters.
IV was the abbreviation for Jupiter’s name in the Roman times! Clock makers may have been hesitant to use the god’s nickname abbreviation so they used the preferred IIII instead. They may have feared they would anger the god if they used his name another way.
The lazy clockmaker theory
Clock makers had to create individual stamps to create the numbers on a clock or watch. The thought is that IIII was easier for a clock maker who had to use make stamps for the clock face.
They would not need to create a separate stamp for IV as they already would have the other numbers put together on a stamp.
This theory confuses me as the 6 roman numeral is just VI which is IV backwards, but that’s just another funny idea to ponder.
The King of France
A clock maker once presented King Louis XIV of France with a time piece that had IV on it. Rumor has it that he did not like it because it clashed with his official title and he demanded him to change it!
Today, most clocks continue to take the IIII form as a sake of tradition and for visual symmetry and visual balance.
If you have kids that enjoy random historical facts they will find these theories quite amusing and interesting to say the least.
What is the history of Roman Numerals?
Roman numerals are an ancient number system that originated thousands of years ago. They were developed in Ancient Rome around 500 B.C. as the main reason for needing to be able to count.
This was important during the every day life of the roman times for trade and communications. When one could not count on their hand any longer, they needed larger numbers.
As Rome began to conquer the world, this numeric system spread throughout Europe and used with the European population as the preferred way to write numbers.
Roman numerals were still used after the fall of the Roman empire and well into the late middle ages. In the 14th century is when we began to see them replaced by Arabic numerals.
Today, we still see this numeral system used on watches, clocks, numbers used as book chapter headings in books.
What do Roman Numerals Stand for?
In the Roman Numeral counting system, symbols and letters stand for numbers.
Does your child know what the C in Roman numerals stands for? There are so many specific numbers to remember! There are roman numerals 1 to 100 and even up to 1,000 and beyond.
Roman Numerals Chart 1-100
Using the numeral convertor chart below, you can see a list of list of Roman numerals and the corresponding value. You can also find Roman numeral converter charts that work online too.
Roman Numerals Chart 1-100
|1 = I||2 = II||3 = III||4 = IV||5 = V|
|6 = VI||7 = VII||8 = VIII||9 = IX||10 = X|
|11 = XI||12 = XII||13 = XIII||14 = XIV||15 = XV|
|16 = XVI||17 = XVII||18 = XVIII||19 = XIX||20 = XX|
|21 = XXI||22 = XXII||23 = XXIII||24 = XXIV||25 = XXV|
|26 = XXVI||27 = XXVII||28 = XXVIII||29 = XXIX||30 = XXX|
|31 = XXXI||32 = XXXII||33 = XXXIII||34 = XXXIV||35 = XXXV|
|36 = XXXVI||37 = XXXVII||38 = XXXVIII||39 = XXXIX||40 = XL|
|41 = XLI||42 = XLII||43 = XLIII||44 = XLIV||45 = XLV|
|46 = XLVI||47 = XLVII||48 = XLVIII||49 = XLIX||50 = L|
|51 = LI||52 = LII||53 = LIII||54 = LIV||55 = LV|
|56 = LVI||57 = LVII||58 = LVIII||59 = LIX||60 = LX|
|61 = LXI||62 = LXII||63 = LXIII||64 = LXIV||65 = LXV|
|66 = LXVI||67 = LXVII||68 = LXVIII||69 = LXIX||70 = LXX|
|71 = LXXI||72 = LXXII||73 = LXXIII||74 = LXXIV||75 = LXXV|
|76 = LXXVI||77 = LXXVII||78 = LXXVIII||79 = LXXIX||80 = LXXX|
|81 = LXXXI||82 = LXXXII||83 = LXXXIII||84 = LXXXIV||85 = LXXXV|
|86 = LXXXVI||87 = LXXXVII||88 = LXXXVIII||89 = LXXXIX||90 = XC|
|91 = XCI||92 = XCII||93 = XCIII||94 = XCIV||95 = XCV|
|96 = XCVI||97 = XCVII||98 = XCVIII||99 = XCIX||100 = C|
Fun Resources to Teach Roman Numerals
Printables are a great way to help children learn to recognize and memorize Roman Numerals and the different numbers they represent. Take a look at these Roman numerals worksheets, and be sure to grab our free math worksheets and Roman Numeral activity Pack at the bottom of this post.
Roman Numeral Puzzles
Roman Numerals Puzzles – Puzzles are a fun way to introduce Roman numbers to children. These four-piece puzzles are great for learning the numbers from 1 through 20. To prepare, just download, print, cut and laminate for durability. The four parts of each puzzle includes: the number, the Roman Numeral, dots and pictures.
Roman Numeral Coloring
Roman Numeral Coloring Book – Including all the numbers from 1 through 20 as well as 50, 100, 500 and 1000, the pages of this book can also be laminated and held together with a binder ring as well used in memory and matching games.
Mandala Color by Roman Numeral – This color by number uses roman numerals as the code. There are fifteen different coloring pages. The codes start with the Roman numerals for 1 through 7, then from 5 through 11 and the last couple of coloring pages include the Roman Numerals for 20, 30 40, 50, 100, 500 and 1000.
Roman Numeral Clock Cards
Roman Numeral Analogue Clock Cards – These clocks are all in Roman numerals. Children can use these cards in multiple ways, to learn how to read roman numerals and tell the time on the clock.
These time cards come in five-minute intervals, can be used in memory or matching games. A fun, hands-on activity for using these cards is to have children shuffle them, then choosing one card at a time, they can match the time on a real clock as they say the time.
Free Roman Numerals Activity Pack
Roman numerals can be confusing, especially for children that are learning letter and number recognition.
With all the letters and numbers, your child could look at XXXVII Roman numeral and just want to give up. Using our printable pack is a great way to help get past the letter number confusion and solidify what they are learning.
Included in the Free Roman Numeral Activity Pack:
- Roman numerals 1-20 chart
- 30 – 1000 in Roman numerals poster
- Activity sheets for addition practice
- Roman numeral number writing practice sheets
- Montessori style flash cards
Use the printable posters to teach numbers 1 – 100 in Roman numerals, and even up to 1000 in Roman numerals.
Use the flash cards to play games, mix and match, and more. Print and laminate this resource so you can use it over and over and with multiple kids.
How to Download Roman Numeral Activity Pack
To get access to this free Roman Numeral Activity Pack, sign into the subscriber library using the password found in all our emails. Not yet a subscriber? No worries – sign up below to get access now!
Stacey is a homeschooling Christian mum trying to live a simple, frugal, healthy life. She lives with her husband and two gorgeous boys in the sunshine state of Queensland, Australia. You can check out her blog at Simple Living Creative Learning where you find printables, kids activities, homemaking resources, homeschooling encouragement, and even some recipes!