Teaching Math with the Saints

saints grid for ordered pairs
I love the saints. These holy men and women of God not only teach me about how I can live my life as a daughter of God, but they help me teach math as well.

This year our principal asked all teachers to have their students work on word problems every day. Since my math book has so few word problems, I had to write my own that I tailor to different saints. For example, “St. Paul wrote 865 words yesterday in his letter to the Ephesians. Rounding to the nearest hundred, about how many words did he write?” I then offered a short biography of St. Paul. I also wrote a problem involving St. Francis: “October 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The cathedral had a blessing of the animals. At this blessing, 20 dogs, 7 hamsters, 5 gerbils, 3 fish, and 1 horse were blessed. Rounding to the nearest 10, about how many animals were blessed?” This problem gave me the opportunity not only to tell my students about our cathedral, but I also got to tell how the Omaha Police Department’s mounted patrol unit brings their horses to receive a blessing!

Since I have a large collection of saint statues in my classroom, I use them to teach about coordinate geometry (ordered pairs). First, I spread out a large tarp, and then I line it with painter’s tape to make a coordinate grid. Then I place each saint statue at a point on the grid. I will ask my students to find a saint and write the ordered pair that gives the saint’s location. Sometimes I won’t give the saint’s name but instead give clues about which saint the children need to find. This tests not only their understanding of geometry, but their knowledge about the lives of the saints as well.

I’m so lucky to teach in a Catholic school where I can weave my faith in my lessons throughout the day. Using the saints in math class has become one of my favorite ways to include the Catholic faith in a unique way.

What are some ways you include the Catholic faith in subjects outside of religion class?

Screenshot of saints grid courtesy of Barb Gilman.

Saints and Feast Days can help you weave the stories of saints into your days. Learn more here.

About Barb Gilman 50 Articles
Barb Gilman is a wife, mother, and third-grade Catholic school teacher. She is the winner of the 2014 NCEA Distinguished Teacher Award for the Plains States. Active on social media, @BarbinNebraska is the co-organizer of the #CatholicEdChat on Twitter.


  1. Love this! As a homeschooler this would have been great! My children are all too old (have any ideas for Calculus with the Saints?) but will remember this for the grandchildren.

    • Thank you! I love to call myself a ‘Jesuit Fan Girl’ because it just speaks to me on how to find God in my life and draw closer to him.

  2. I teach Religion and the other teachers have the curricular areas. As we head into “Pi Day” I’m now wondering how I can work Math into my Religion class instead of the other way around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.