Math Mentor Text - How Much Is a Million? - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom

Math Mentor Text - How Much Is a Million?

Happy Sunday! I hope you've had a great weekend! I spent my day today cleaning house. ICK! But with all the back to school hubbub, my house definitely got neglected.

I'm linking up with those cuties, Amanda and Stacia, to share a book and idea I use with Number Sense!

Place Value and Number Sense just don't come easily to some students. At ALL. I think part of the problem is that they don't know how to "see" the numbers. A book like How Much Is a Million? can help with that!

An attempt to help children conceptualize the immensity of numbers is aided immeasurably by the artist's jovial, detailed, whimsical illustrations. Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician demonstrates the meaning of a million by showing his four young friends (plus two cats, a dog, and a unicorn) that it would take twenty-three days to even count to a million and that a goldfish bowl large enough to hold a million goldfish could hold a whale. Seven pages are printed with tiny white stars on a grid pattern against a blue sky -- adding up to only one hundred thousand stars! And after that, a billion and a trillion are discussed, all with equally or even more outstanding examples; a trillion children standing on each other's shoulders would almost reach to the rings of Saturn. The author concludes with several pages of the mathematical calculations which support his examples, very clearly and humorously explained. An unusual idea, smoothly and amusingly presented.
To get an idea of how my students see numbers, on Friday I gave them a quick formative assessment. (Formative assessment is just a fancy way to say "pre-test." It's a great tool to use to see what the students already know, and to differentiate! I like to use them to make my math groups for Math Workshop!) They had 5 minutes to put as much as they could on the paper. Here are two examples:
This student seems to have a fairly good grasp on how to MAKE 1,000. (Except for the 999+1=10... I think he just left off the other two zeros.) It still doesn't really show me what he "sees" though.
This student is showing me he doesn't have a good grasp on 1,000 because he thought he could draw 250 4-legged animals in 5 minutes...

If you'd like to give your students this quick formative assessment, you can grab the freebie here! In the directions I say to give them 10-15 minutes. We only had about 5 minutes left to do it Friday because we're still getting used to our schedule. :-P It's really up to you, though, honestly! It's very open-ended, and just a way for you to observe their thinking. :o)
This formative assessment is also found in my Common Core Aligned Place Value Unit and my Numbers and Operations Bundle if you'd like to see more ideas to teach number sense and place value! :o)

Make sure to visit Collaboration Cuties' post today to see all the other great Math books that are linked up!


  1. That is such a great book! Thanks for sharing the formative assessment. Drawing 250 4-legged animals is a very unique approach...

    Eclectic Educating

    1. I know! I may be giving him too much credit. He may have been trying to draw 1,000 animals!!!

  2. Love the freebie! And another book to add to my wishlist! Thanks!

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason
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  3. I love this book! Your formative assessment is perfect for the beginning of the year.

    Thank you!


  4. Thanks for the freebie! I'm definitely going to use it this week. I also going to have to check that book out!

  5. Love this book. Love your assessment. Big thanks to you!!

  6. Thanks for the freebie! Such a great activity to use with this book.

  7. I've seen this book before but never read it. We do place value at the beginning of the year so I think I'll check it out; thanks for the reminder!

  8. I love this book and love your formative assessment! Thanks for linking up friend! Have a great week!

    Collaboration Cuties

  9. I went to a reading conference just after this book came out, and David Schwartz was crazy! He ran all around the room during the presentation much like Ron Clark does in his classroom. This book is so great for measurement, money, and lots more.
    Comprehension Connection

  10. Yay! I have this book!! Phew! Thanks for the formative assessment!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  11. I love this formative assessment! Thank you so much for sharing. I think I will do this activity during the first week of school too. Very telling for 4th graders. I will also have some that try to draw some four legged animals, lol. Thanks again for sharing...really great!

    The Teaching Thief

  12. We read "how much is a million" earlier this year! Totally agree, it's a great book for place value! Check out some of the other books we read for maths during book week here
    The E-Z Class

  13. THANK YOU!! I may have to buy all your bundles!

    Ms. Chae Charges In


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