How Much is a Million?

How Much is a Million?
by David Schwartz
and Steven Kellogg

lesson ideas
& activities

Lesson Idea:  Add Some Personal Context

When reading this book to your class, it can be helpful to stop now and then to add some more personal examples to help drive the point home. For example:

Counting to the Number
The book says it would take a person 23 days to count to a million.
To help children 'remember' how long 23 days really is, count back 23 days and then say something like "23 days ago was the day after Halloween. That's a long time ago. Can you imagine if you did nothing but count numbers, all day and all night since then?"

The book says it would take you 95 years to count to a billion.
Children may not know how long 95 years really is, so you could say "That would be like if your grandpa or grandma started counting 1,2,3,4... on the second they were born and did nothing else their whole entire life, all day and all night.  And they STILL wouldn't be close to counting to a billion."  (I think we can assume no young child has a 95 year old grandparent.)

Stars on the Page
The book says it would take 10 miles of a page of stars (in the book) to show a billion stars.
Children have a hard time conceptualizing 10 miles, so think of a well known place that's ten miles away and tell the children to imagine the paper going all the way there. If you are really Google Earth savvy, you could even go from the school to that place electronically.

The book says the stars page would stretch from NYC to New Zealand in order to show a trillion.
For students who have never heard of New Zealand or don't know where it is, you could say "That's half way around the planet" and if you have a globe in the classroom, show them.

How Much is a Million? is a fantastic book, so these additions aren't meant to suggest that the book is lacking in any way. It's just helpful to also put the numbers in a personal context.

Lesson Idea:  How Much Is a Million and Number Sense (Gr. 2)

The website lists a lesson using this book. This is a three part lesson, requiring one hour over three days. The lesson rationale is as follows:

"This activity is intended to provide students with the opportunity to discover the magnitude of the number 100. This understanding of the value of a number is termed number sense and can be developed by allowing students to experience 100 by counting it, measuring it, feeling it, and doing it, hands-on. Number sense is an important asset in estimation activities because it enables students to formulate appropriate approximations."

To read the full lesson plan on the website, please click here.

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