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Grade: Elementary
Subject: Mathematics

#1863. How Much is a Million? and Number Sense

Mathematics, level: Elementary
Posted Fri Jul 21 08:55:05 PDT 2000 by Carrie Srsic (
Indiana University of PA, Indiana, PA USA
Materials Required: Jar filled with 50-100 of the same object
Activity Time: 1 hour for each of three days
Concepts Taught: Number Sense

I. Math: How Much is a Million? and Number Sense
Grade 2
Time Allotted: 1 hour for three consecutive days

II. Rationale
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.

III. Lesson Objectives

As a result of this lesson, the learner will:

1. Measure 100 in terms of dimension, time, personal reaction, or other appropriate means.

2. Describe their measurements of 100 using words and pictures.

3. Improve estimating skills.

IV. Materials
Jar filled with 50-100 of the same object
How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz, 1985
Books, popsicle sticks, blocks, or other things to count

V. Procedures
Day 1: Begin class by asking students to guess how many objects are in the jar. You are likely to receive all sorts of answers; accept all guesses, and do not reveal if any are close to the correct answer. Without a doubt, some of the answers will be very large. Exaggerated guesses lead into the reading of the story. Put the jar down and read How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz. When you finish, ask the students what they think about one million. Are they surprised at how big it is? Tell them that your class is going to make a book like How Much is a Million? about 100, and that they need to think of things to count and measure. Give them some time to brainstorm, and record their ideas.

Day 2: Have as many of the students' brainstormed items as possible arranged in stations throughout the room. Pair the students and allow them to move about the stations freely. Keep an eye out to be sure that everyone is on task. Encourage each pair to measure as many things or in as many ways as possible. The students record their activities and their findings.

Day 3: The students will share their previous days' experiences and choose at least one unique measurement to describe and illustrate. The teacher will collect these descriptions and illustrations and bind them into a book, which will be placed in the class library. When the papers have been collected, bring out the jar and ask the students again how many objects they think are inside. Their estimates should be much more accurate this time. Remind them of their first guesses and congratulate them on their improvement. Tell how many objects are in the jar.