The Story of Zero



  • Understand and explain zero’s value as a number.
  • Have students use zero in mathematical operations appropriate for their grade level.
  • Know the story of zero and the unique contributions of those advancing the idea of zero as a numerical value, especially of Indian mathematicians.


Bring students to a circular formation, ideally on the floor. Introduce the concept of today’s lesson plan as learning about zero. Ask students the following questions:
Where have you heard of zero before?
Have you ever seen zero in real life?
What’s your definition of zero?
Give students an example of how zero has come up in your own life.


  1. What is zero? How does zero show up in real life?
  2. How does zero work in mathematical operations such as addition and subtraction, and how does it work as a placeholder?
  3. Where did the idea of “zero” come from? How did the idea change over time?
  4. Why is it important to honor the creators of important mathematical concepts, especially those who are underrepresented in history?


Lesson plan created in partnership with Diversify Our Narrative