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Convert a Roman Numeral

written by: Kathy Foust•edited by: Trent Lorcher•updated: 8/29/2009

Roman numerals involve math just to read the numeral. That's why students must learn to convert Roman numerals one at a time before tackling the actual reading of them. Use this lesson plan to teach your students to do just that.

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    Interpreting Symbols

    Before you can read any language, you must be able to read the symbols that the language is made up of. Learning Roman numerals is no different because the symbols that are used for numbers are not the symbols that most of the world currently uses to represent numbers.

    Use this second lesson plan in the series about Roman numerals to teach your student how to interpret each numeral on its own before moving on to the next lesson plan which will tell students how to correctly read Roman numerals and interpret them. Use the information below to explain to students what each Roman numeral and symbol stands for.

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    Convert Roman Numerals

    This list will teach students what each Roman numeral stands for and provide tips on remembering why each symbol represents what it does.

    • I -stands for "1" and can be remembered by remembering that a finger represents the number 1.
    • V -stands for "5" and can be remembered by imagining an out stretched hand.
    • X - stands for "10" and can be remembered by imaging two hands crossing over each other.
    • L -stands for "50". Get creative with this one and think of money. If "X" means ten and thus two hands crossed, remember "L" is fifty by imaging that you must slide one crossed hand down to make room for more money in the palm.
    • C - stands for "100" and can be remembered as the $100 bill being called a C-note.
    • M- stands for "1000" and can be remembered as the single largest symbol that stands on its own in Roman numerals.

    Using the information above, ask students to write the Roman numerals as you name them. Then ask them for possible answers as to how the numbers below might be written.

    • 2
    • 3
    • 20
    • 200

    To be able to fully convert Roman numerals into any given number, students will need to learn the rules of Roman numerals before moving on. Move on to the next lesson plan in this series to teach students these rules.

Roman Numerals Today

This series is dedicated to learning about Roman Numerals. They are more than just pretty markings on a clock!
  1. History of Roman Numerals
  2. Convert a Roman Numeral
  3. Lesson on Reading Roman Numerals
  4. Lesson on Converting Roman Numerals
  5. Practice with Roman Numerals