Numeracy in the creative arts

Understanding ways in which numeracy is and can be embedded through all aspects of the creative arts.


Watch the numeracy of the creative arts video (03:38).

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

[End of transcript]


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

What does numeracy in dance look like:

  • Spatial awareness, dance elements (such as time) travelling, counting beats, simple sequences use specific steps to travel in a set direction such as marching forwards 8 counts. Combine dance sequences such as performing movement 1 then adding movement 2.
  • Counting beats within different metres, tempos, groupings, patterns and algebra, sequences and structures. Step to the beat and then create movement sequences in duple, triple, quadruple metre. Perform set steps to a variety of tempos (speeds) such as in Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Repeat a particular step as a pattern or repeat a combination of steps as a larger pattern.
  • Additive steps and sequences such as expanding, condensing, retrograde, inversions and repetition. Use a variety of patterns as sequences and ways of composing dances. Repetition involves repeating a sequence. Inverts steps, use retrograde (backwards steps), expand steps or condense them.
  • Analyse routines and dance sequences then turn findings into graphs. Map out and block dance sequences through movement diagrams or maps.

Numeracy in drama:

  • Body, spatial and shape awareness, and direction by using your body to create shapes or numbers individually or in groups. Move left or right, forward or backwards with a practical body movement. Use body awareness and the entire space in the room.
  • Introductory drama elements such as using symbol and time in role-play or other dramatic forms with problem-solving and working mathematically. Role play morning and evening routines or life stages such as being a baby or a senior and the weather, month or season.
  • Sequencing and structure in playbuilding the order of events of a day through role play. Build up aspects from role plays to create a sequenced dramatic story. Use ordinal language to sequence drama, time particular scenes, plan and order performances.
  • Size planes, position and time, dimension, movement pathways to solve problems in improvisation when performers are added and subtracted.

What does numeracy in music look like:

  • Speech, chants and songs using musical concepts such as counting beats and rhythm patterns. Rhythm in music links to patterns and algebra, whole numbers, multiplication and division in mathematics.
  • Musical concepts such as duration (beat, rhythm, metre, tempo), dynamics, structure and own symbol systems (graphic notation) explore the division of beats using graphic and stick notation, dynamic symbols, identifying and mapping formal musical structure.
  • Formal symbols (notation), more complex musical concepts such as groupings, accents, metres, patterns and sequences. Play and recognise patterns in music such as a riff (or ostinato).
  • Explore the difference in measurement between large and small-scale sized instruments and their tone colour or pitch/tone. Listen, respond and arrange pieces using addition and subtraction of instruments explores musical texture and structure.

What does numeracy in the visual arts look like:

  • Use artistic forms to explore numeracy such as modelling or illustrating shapes, symbols, textures, lines, graphs, patterns and numbers.
  • Draw or use clay to create circles or spheres, squares ? cubes, numbers and arrays. Draw lines, symbols or make patterns such as making emotion lines or illustrations to match texts, picture graphs.
  • Artistic techniques can be used to investigate shapes, perspectives, volume, mass, dimension, solids, voids, 2D or 3D: sculpt, nets, and origami as a means to creating and exploring a variety of 2D or 3D shapes and exploring perspective.
  • Create models to measure volume and capacity and estimate measurements through making or appreciating artworks such as still life.
  • Use artistic techniques to visually represent fractions, decimals, patterns, percentages, symbol and money to create origami, models or symmetrical artworks to explore fractions of a whole through illustrations or models of tens or hundreds and new money systems.
  • Make and analyse artworks and using ratios, angles and fractions in various media forms to create artworks by dividing space into fractions of a whole such as folding, measuring and drawing portraits or structured drawings.
  • Explore proportion and ration through expanding patterns by 2X, 4X, 20X.


  • Teaching and learning

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