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How Much Is a Million?
Author: David M. Schwartz
Illustrator: Steven Kellogg
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Copyright: 1985
ISBN: 0-688-09933-5
Number of Pages: 40
Ohio Standards Alignment: Grades 3–8

Let Marvelosissimo, the Mathematical Magician, guide students into the world of large numbers. They will sail past one hundred thousand stars and see towers of children reaching toward Saturn's rings as the concepts of a million, billion, and trillion are made vivid in the mind-stretching scenes illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Elementary students will delight in the pictures, and middle grades students will enjoy checking the author's numerical claims. The assumptions underlying various estimates, for example, that it would take 95 years to count to a billion, are listed in the back of the book for easy reference. 

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How to Use This Book
Highlights and Insights
Related ORC Resources
Ohio Standards

 


How to Use This Book

  • Teachers can discuss with students how much a hundred and a thousand are before reading this book.
  • They might then have students determine the measurements used in the book. For example, how tall is the tallest building? How far is it from Earth to Saturn's rings? 
  • If it takes 23 days to count to a million, would it take 95 years to count to a billion? Estimating large quantities and conceptualizing what these quantities look like is very helpful for students.
  • Trying to count how many days old students are or how many minutes are in a school week or school year are fun ways to extend this book.

Highlights and Insights

  • Children need a firm sense of large numbers before moving on to more complex methods of naming large numbers using exponents and scientific notation.
  • Although this is a picture book, the content is far beyond the understanding of young children. Both the numbers and the examples used to compare them have little meaning for students younger than third grade. However, for older children (and adults) trying to understand millions, billions, and trillions (i.e., the national debt), the illustrations and comparisons are delightfully illuminating.

Related ORC Resources

Too Big or Too Small?
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ORC# 3313
Resource Information
Resource Type: Content Supports -- Activities and rich problems
Discipline: Mathematics
Grades: Grades 3–6
Professional Commentary: This lesson features three activities to promote number sense with large numbers, fractions, and decimal operations. In the first activity, students use proportional reasoning to determine whether $1 million in $1 bills would fit in a suitcase and how much it would weigh....
Count on Math 2: Making Your First Million
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ORC# 4374
Resource Information
Resource Type: Lessons
Discipline: Mathematics
Grades: Grades 4–6
Professional Commentary: In this second of two lessons on developing number sense, students begin to apprehend the size of one million by figuring out how long is a million days, how long would it take to count to one million on a calculator, how long would it take to write the numbers from 1 to 1,000,000, and other...
How Can I Relate?
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ORC# 7903
Resource Information
Resource Type: Content Supports
Discipline: Mathematics
Grades: Grades 4–7
Professional Commentary: This site provides a number of good ideas for helping students comprehend the magnitude of a million and billion using multiple contexts and visual representations.  ORC reviewers felt that the nine lessons described would require more time than most classes would be able to spend on this topic. Thus, we recommend this site as a source for...

Ohio Standards

Number, Number Sense and Operations Standard
    Benchmarks (3-4)
    A. Use place value structure of the base-ten number system to read, write, represent and compare whole numbers and decimals.


Measurement Standard
    Benchmarks (3-4)
    C. Develop common referents for units of measure for length, weight, volume (capacity) and time to make comparisons and estimates.
    Benchmarks (5-7)
    B. Convert units of length, area, volume, mass and time within the same measurement system.
    Grade Level Indicators (5)
    5. Make conversions within the same measurement system while performing computations.