The power of mathematics for describing and analysing the world around us is such that it has become a highly effective tool for solving problems. It is also recognized that students can appreciate the intrinsic fascination of mathematics and explore the world through its unique perceptions. In the same way that students describe themselves as "authors" or "artists", a school's programme should also provide students with the opportunity to see themselves as "mathematicians", where they enjoy and are enthusiastic when exploring and learning about mathematics.

In the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), mathematics is also viewed as a vehicle to support inquiry, providing a global language through which we make sense of the world around us. It is intended that students become competent users of the language of mathematics, and can begin to use it as a way of thinking, as opposed to seeing it as a series of facts and equations to be memorized.

Five strands are designed to interact with each other, working together to support the overall development of each student. Learning objectives describe the grade level expectations for each strand. Below are the strand descriptors.


Our number system is a language for describing quantities and the relationships between quantities. For example, the value attributed to a digit depends on its place within a base system. Numbers are used to interpret information, make decisions and solve problems. For example, the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are related to one another and are used to process information in order to solve problems. The degree of precision needed in calculating depends on how the result will be used.


Data handling allows us to make a summary of what we know about the world and to make inferences about what we do not know.

  Data can be collected, organized, represented and summarized in a variety of ways to highlight similarities, differences and trends; the chosen format should illustrate the information without bias or distortion.

  Probability can be expressed qualitatively by using terms such as "unlikely", "certain" or "impossible". It can be expressed quantitatively on a numerical scale.


To measure is to attach a number to a quantity using a chosen unit. Since the attributes being measured are continuous, ways must be found to deal with quantities that fall between numbers. It is important to know how accurate a measurement needs to be or can ever be.


The regions, paths and boundaries of natural space can be described by shape. An understanding of the interrelationships of shape allows us to interpret, understand and appreciate our two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) world.


To identify pattern is to begin to understand how mathematics applies to the world in which we live. The repetitive features of patterns can be identified and described as generalized rules called "functions". This builds a foundation for the later study of algebra.