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Math Tools Grades 3–12 (2nd edition)


Math(s) tools are ways to build mathematical practices, differentiate instruction and increase student engagement.

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Exploring 'Big' Numbers

Exploring ‘big’ numbers

Exploring 'Big' Numbers

Young children are fascinated by big numbers, often asking, ‘What is the biggest number there is?’ or using words like hundreds or millions to describe quantities of things. Providing children with engaging contexts, such as those found in picture books, can promote lively discussions and lead to the development of number sense and estimation skills.

"Mr Chicken Goes to Paris" by Russell Hobbs is an engaging story about a chicken who flies to Paris and then tours around all the famous sites. He visits the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, before heading back home again. After reading the story from beginning to end, select an aspect that will enable exploration of larger numbers. For example:

Mr Chicken travelled to Paris in France. How far away do you think that is? How could we find out? (Once this has been found out, try and relate it to children’s own experiences – how many trips would that be between ….. and ….? How many times around our oval would this be?)

Mr Chicken travelled in a plane to get to Paris. How many people do you think would fit on the plane? How long do you think it would take? How could we find out? What could you do in that many hours?

Mr Chicken had to line up to get into many of the attractions. If twenty people were in the queue, how long do you think the line would be? What if there were 50 people? How long do you think you would have to wait?

Contribution by Dr Tracey Muir

'Mr Chicken goes to Paris' graphic from front cover by Leigh Hobbs