Numeracy in the creative arts

The creative arts and numeracy are linked in many and varied ways.

The numeracy of the creative arts video describes the researched ways in which numeracy is and can be embedded through all aspects of the creative arts.


Watch the numeracy of the creative arts video (03:39).

Numeracy and the Creative Arts


Did you know that the creative arts and numeracy are closely related?

Explicit teaching in the creative arts will not only teach arts learning, but also numeracy.

'The patterns in all the arts are the key to learning.' Plato.

Think about Leonardo da Vinci. He combined the arts with numeracy and the technologies of his day to produce some world-changing inventions.

Because, to get the most from STEM, we should look to the power of STEAM.

The creative arts enable personal expression, enjoyment, imagination, and emotion.

Visual arts, music, drama, and dance offer students and people of all ages opportunities for personal expression, enjoyment, creative action, imagination, emotional response, aesthetic pleasure, and the creation of shared meanings.

Not only that, successful learners are creative, innovative, and resourceful, and are able to solve problems in ways

that draw upon a range of learning areas and disciplines.

As a general capability, we need to embed numeracy in all that we do.

Here are just some of the ways you can incorporate numeracy when teaching the creative arts.


Music is the sensation of counting without being aware you were counting.

Count beats and rhythm patterns in a song, graph the structure, explore musical symbol systems, or learn about

and measure the tempo of a song.

Visual arts.

A line is a dot that went for a walk.

Use origami to explore fractions, draw and sculpt shapes to explore line explore shapes using a variety of art-making practises, experiment with symmetry and fractions, examine perspective, proportion, and measurement

through art-making and appreciating.


Notions of sequencing and ordering, estimation, measurement, spatial awareness, and proportions are just some of the numerate skills and knowledge that may be explored through the content and processes of drama.

Importantly, these numerate skills may be addressed in a highly imaginative, creative, fun and engaging manner, increasing the real-world relevance of mathematical instruction.

Explore the use of space and patterns within improvisation.

Creatively solve improvisation problems, highlight spatial requirements as a way of developing spatial awareness, shapes, and following directions.

Playbuild around a mathematical scenario, such as shopping.


Dance is the mathematics of the soul.

Use choreographed, numbered steps to travel in a direction in a particular way.

Or building a dance routine that involves a change in tempo or inversions, where the steps are mirrored.

Explore lines, shapes, and develop spatial awareness. Not only are the creative arts a great vehicle

for teaching vital competencies included in numeracy, learning in and about the arts is essential to intellectual development.

The arts also provide opportunities to enhance general skills in areas such as numeracy.

The arts inspire outcomes.

It may just be the key to our survival.

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The numeracy infographics provide clear and explicit teaching and learning activities.

Numeracy and the creative arts 7-12

Numeracy and the creative arts video explores the links between numeracy and the creative arts curriculum. 7-12.


Watch the numeracy and the creative arts video (06:33).

Numeracy in the creative arts 7-12

Cathryn Ricketts

My name is Cathryn Ricketts, and I'm the Creative Arts Advisor for years 7 to 12 at the learning and teaching Directorate of the department of education.

Embedding numeracy into the creative arts may appear to be a challenge at first. However, with careful investigation of our curriculum content you would discover incredible learning experiences for your students. The most important thing to take away from this video is the reassurance to your students that numeracy is present and important for the successful study in all of our subjects. Today we will look at ways we are already addressing numeracy in four areas consistent from K-10, of dance, drama, music, and visual arts, and conclude with teaching and learning experiences that excite us in each of those areas.

Today we will be looking at teaching and learning activities from K-10 in dance, drama, music, and visual arts. Numerical concepts are exemplified in dance through spatial awareness; elements of movement, dance, and construction; counting beats within varied metres; exploring tempo; rhythmic and choreographical patterns; sequences and structures like expanding, condensing, retrograde, inversions, repetition; routines and movement diagrams; practical aspects like production budgeting; and choreographical mapping with dance artwork analysis.

Here are six activities you can use in a stage 4 or 5 classroom. One: get students to form shapes and numbers. Develop this into dance practical performances that require problem-solving through multiplication, subtraction, and addition. Two: use multiplicative thinking to choreograph and perform large-scale dance performances. Three: analyse the elements of instruction by investigating the probability and statistics of movement and repetition.

Drama and numeracy complement each other so frequently and so cleverly that students are often unaware that they are performing mathematical thinking while completing drama. We explore numeracy when looking at space and shape awareness, direction, the elements of drama, sequencing and structure, size plains, movement pathways, probability, proxemics, budgeting, the elements of production, set design, given circumstances of characters, and dramatic forms.

Some stage 4 and 5 learning activities for drama could be, one: physical warmups and cool-downs requiring movements specifically related to numbered groups and money. Two: explore the different theatre stages, such as proscenium arch, a thrust, and look at how various performances could be performed with the pros and cons for the sets, the acoustics, the space. And block and work scenes within these spaces. Three: create timelines for characters, or passages of time to explore the recording, measuring and passage of duration within a play. Four: estimate data and add and create diagrams, exploring the probability of characters, storylines, and given circumstances. Five: data analysis and management of production budgets, estimates, and proportional reasoning for elements of the production. And six: improvisation games that allow students to experiment with time allocations, estimate, and adjust performances with preparation time and to time restrictions. 2 Numeracy in the creative arts - transcript

Music and numeracy are very closely related. When studying music in stages 4 and 5, we look at speech, chance, and songs; counting beats; rhythm patterns; musical concepts; duration, such as beat, rhythm, metre, tempo, dynamics, structure, symbol; graphic notation; groupings; accents; metres; traditional notation; patterns and sequences; pitch; harmony; tonality; motifs; time; patterns; improvisation; musical history; performance; oral, and ICT.

Six tasks or activities you could use I your stage 4 or 5 music classroom. One: simple equations through graphic music and notation. Two: create graphical representations of the line of pitch. Three: justify and explore the duration and time between different units of notation. Four: explore the difference in measurement between large-scale and small-scale sized instruments and their tone pitch or tone colour. Five: listening, responding, and arranging pieces using addition and subtraction of various instruments. Six: statistical investigations for audience purpose, music, and sound levels in performance.

Last but not least, numerical concept are exemplified in the visual arts when looking at: artistic forms, modelling, illustrating; symbols, textures, lines, graphs, patterns and numbers; artistic techniques to investigate and create, such as shapes, perspectives, volume, mass, dimension, solids, voids, 2D, 3D, fractions, decimals, patterns, percentages, symbol, money, ratios, angles, proportional reasoning, Pythagoras's theorem, areas of a shape, colour, estimate, and materials.

Six tasks or activities you could use in your visual arts classroom could be, one: predict higher terms of patterns by increasing picture sizes by 2, 4, 20, etc. Two: estimate on how much colour is required for what combination, then solve through applying the mathematical technique. Three: justify proportional reasoning problems when solving problems for questions, for topics like the amount of paint required for particular rooms. Four: explore historical artworks and art preservation by investigating environmental considerations, such as temperature and the impact this has on materials, the colour, and the canvases. Five: study and create perspectives and angles through contemporary and historical artworks. Six: solve real world issues by running a week of lessons where students are responsible for ordering and managing their own art materials.

By delivering powerful lessons that successfully combine numeracy and the creative arts, a world of exciting classroom opportunities come to life. It is so important that we, as creative arts teachers, take the initiative to think outside of the box and embed numeracy activities as frequently as possible through fun and engaging lessons.

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