The Stories/Movies

The Adventures of Small Number: The Stories & Movies


To promote mathematics among Aboriginal learners, we have created a series of stories with mathematical themes. These stories are based on the storytelling tradition of Aboriginal peoples. The fact that all of our stories have been translated into several Aboriginal languages is probably the biggest recognition that an author could hope for.  Take a moment to scroll down through this page and click on each of the stories….you will see and hear many different translations of each story.

Small Number Counts to 100

The first story, Small Number Counts to 100 was inspired by narration from Ms. Rina Sinclair of the Siksika Nation. The story can be shown to elementary school students as a counting practice/puzzle or as a pattern recognition problem. For high school students it can be a way to introduce arithmetic progressions, modular addition, or an idea of number systems with a base different than 10.

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Small Number and the Old Canoe

In Small Number and the Old Canoe, mathematics is present throughout the story with the hope that this experience will make at least some members of our young audience, with the moderator’s help, recognize more mathematics around them in their everyday lives. Using terms like smooth, shape, oval, and surface, and mathematical phraseology like It must be at least a hundred years old, the artist skillfully presents reflection (symmetry) of trees in water, and so on.

The idea behind this approach is to give the moderator a few openings to introduce or emphasize various mathematical objects, concepts and terminology. The short film is a little math suspense story and our question is related only to one part of it. The aim of the question is to lead to an introduction at an intuitive level of the concept of a function and the essence of the principle of inclusion-exclusion as a counting technique. The authors would also like to give their audience an opportunity to appreciate that in order to understand a math question, one often needs to read (or in this case, watch) a problem more than once.

Small Number and the Basketball Tournament

Small Number is a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief. Twice a week, after school, he goes with his friends to the Aboriginal Friendship Centre. There the boys first have a snack and then they do mathematics for half an hour. Sometimes they do algebra in their workbooks, but usually they play mathematical games. They also love playing basketball in the Centre’s gym and wish to enter a tournament. Small Number demonstrates how a basic understanding of combinatorics can help in all aspects of life, even basketball!

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Small Number and the Skateboard Park

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Small Number is a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief.  He lives in a big city with his mother and his older sister Perfect Number.  Every Sunday afternoon, Small Number does his math homework.  When he has trouble with math, he usually asks his sister for help.  But this Sunday he has a geometry problem that looks very difficult and he decides to ask his cousin, Full Angle, who studies mathematics at the university.

Small Number and the Salmon Harvest

Small Number is a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief.  He lives in a small village by the water with his mother and father. It is a crisp autumn day and Small Number is helping his father to prepare the nets for tomorrow’s salmon harvest. “There is a school of salmon by Straight Line Beach. We need to set our net in the morning while the tide is still high,” says Small Number’s father...

Small Number and the Big Tree

Small Number is a young boy who gets into a lot of mischief. With his sister Perfect Number he visits their Grandma who lives in a small village on their Nation’s traditional territory.

Small Number and the Old Totem Pole

My name is Small Number. This is a story that I’ve heard from my grandmother and that she heard from her grandmother. It is about an old totem pole built by my ancestors on a beach close to our village.

Small Number and the Kit Foxes

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The full moon rose over the horizon and lit up the grasslands, which had a light dusting from the winter snow that had fallen the day before. Moonlight streamed in through the front window and lit up the room where Small Number, his sister Perfect Number, and their cousins were sitting around the fireplace talking about the new pair of kit foxes that had been settled that day near the rocks beside the creek way out by the furthest edge of their grandparents' ranch.

Small Number and the Old Arrowhead

It is summer time and Small Number and his friend Big Circle spend every day playing and exploring the surroundings of their village. A few days ago, they tripped over an old canoe buried in the sand; yesterday they found the biggest cedar tree that they had ever seen; and today they discovered a beach with an ancient totem pole in the middle of it. “I wonder how many more discoveries we will make this summer!“ said Small Number to Big Circle while the boys rode their bikes towards the village.

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Small Number and the Four rabbit holes

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My name is Small Number. This is a story that I heard from my grandmother and that she heard from her grandmother. It is about a coyote, a raven, a rabbit, and the four rabbit holes.

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