Lesson 4: One Million

Getting Started

Questions to Explore

  • How does place value work?
  • What is a million?
  • How can we use place value to name, create, and compare numbers to a million?
  • How do we write and speak in mathematical language?

Facts and Definitions

  • Millions place: position to the left of the hundred thousands place


  • Read and write multi-digit whole numbers using base-ten numerals, number names, and expanded form
  • Compare two multi-digit numbers based on meanings of the digits in each place
  • Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right


  • How Much Is a Million? by David M. Schwartz
  • colored pencils
  • fine point dry-erase markers (kit)
  • Interactive Notebook
  • laminated place value chart (kit)
  • number cards (kit)
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • whiteboard (kit)


Materials: fine point dry-erase markers (kit), laminated place value chart (kit), number cards (kit), whiteboard (kit)
Ask, "Is a million a lot?" and "How much do you think a million is?" Accept your child's answers. Next, read the following sayings out loud to your child, and ask her to explain what she thinks each one means:
  • One in a million
  • You look like a million bucks
  • Not in a million years
  • Thanks a million
Now, show your child the image of one million dots at the following web link. By scrolling to the right, your child will be able to see all one million dots.
Web Link
As your child looks at the dots on the left side of the page, ask, "If each tiny dot is 1 dot, then what is one row of dots in each small square is equal to?" (10 dots) and "If each row is 10 dots, then what is one small square equal to?" Help your child see that there are 10 rows of 10 dots in each square, so each small square has 100 dots.
Next, ask, "What is one column of small squares equal to?" To find this answer, your child should multiply 100 (1 small square) by 10 because there are 10 small squares in one column. She should find that one column is equal to 1,000. As needed, remind her that when we multiply be 10, we add a zero to the right side of a number. For example, 6×10=60, 60×10=600, and 600×10=6,000.

Finally, ask, "If a small square has 100 dots and one column of small squares has 1,000 dots, how many dots do you think the larger square has?" (10,000)

Allow your child to scroll through all one million dots again. Now ask, "If someone says 'Thanks a million,' is she just a little bit thankful or very thankful?" (very thankful) and "If something has only one chance in a million of happening, is it very likely to happen or unlikely to happen?" (unlikely)

Give your child the laminated place value mat, number cards 1-9, and dry-erase markers. As she's done before, she will shuffle the number cards, draw one card, and then write that digit in the ones place on the mat. Next, she will draw another card and write that digit in the tens place on the mat. She will continue this process until she has digits written in all the places on the mat (including the millions place). Now, help her read the number. For example, if the number showing is 5,647,192, she should say, "Five million six hundred forty-seven thousand one hundred ninety-two." Ask her to repeat this process two more times (she'll need to add the already-used cards back to the stack and re-shuffle them each time), so that she has three different numbers on the mat.

Next, pose the following types of questions based on the numbers showing on the mat (answers will vary):
  • Which number has the greatest digit in the millions place?
  • Which number has the smallest digit in the ten thousands place?
  • Which number has ____ (name a digit) in the hundred thousands/tens/hundreds place? (repeat with different digits and different places)
Now, your child will select one of the numbers on the mat and will write it in expanded form and in word form on the whiteboard. If she needs more practice with this, ask her to repeat this process with one of the other numbers on the mat or with a seven-digit number that you dictate to her (for example, 2,946,301). (2,000,000+900,000+40,000+6,000+300+1, two million nine hundred forty-six thousand three hundred one)