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Theme: How Much is a million? Can be used when studying
space, dinosaurs, money etc.
Math Concept: Place Value, Addition
Grade level: fourth
Objective: Students should be able to read, write, and
add numbers through hundred thousands in standard form and short
Materials: How Much Is a Million? David M. Schartz
New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1985
cardboard, paperclips, markers, place value chart
Book Review: Marvelosissimo, the mathematical magician,
takes the reader on a journey and explains the concept of million,
billion , and trillion. These are often difficult concepts for
children to grasp and these detailed illustrations and descriptions,
children can better understand large numbers.
- Before reading the book, ask the students if they know how
much a million is. If they know the answer ask them about a billion
and a trillion.
- Have students brainstorm times and places they might encounter
large numbers. For example, one interesting fact is that scientist
now estimate that the brain contains 100 trillion synapses. Have
children discuss why it may be important to be accurate about
large numbers. Why can’t we say that the stars are really far
- Read the book How Much Is a Million?
- After reading the book, give each student a place value chart
and ask some of the following questions using the chart: Write
out numerically one million, two hundred thousand, six million,
one hundred thousand. Write out in words: 5, 250, 000 6, 789,
- Then ask them what they know about 1 million for example,
1 million is 1,000 thousands; 1 million is 10 hundred thousands.
Once the students grasp the concept of a million, they can then
play the bull’s-eye game.
Bull’s Eye Game
- Divide the students into pairs to play this game.
- Draw a large bull’s-eye on a 2X2 square piece of cardboard.
Label as follows: 1. Inside circle, millions; 2. Next circle,
thousands; 3. Next circle hundreds; 4. Next circle, tens; 5.
Last circle, ones.
- Let students pitch 25 paperclips at the bulls-eye and then
figure out their score by adding up the numbers. Have them use
expanded notation first, and then write the number. For example,
2,000,000 + 6,000 + 500 + 40 + 8 = 2, 006, 548.
If the students have difficulty adding their numbers,
have them use their place value charts.
- Whoever has the largest number wins.
Have students actually make one million. Have them draw 100 stars
on each sheet of paper. As the papers are completed, hang them
somewhere in the room so students can see what a large number
this is. This will take a long time, so they may wish to enlist
other classes or continue the project when they have all their
Source: Braddon, Kathryn, Hall, N., and Taylor, D. Math
Through Literature, (1993 ), Englewood, CO., Teacher