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Topic: Suggestions for teaching place value of large numbers?

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Subject: Suggestions for teaching place value of large numbers?
Date Posted: 1/22/2009 11:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
Posts: 10,401
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Hi fellow homeschoolers,

My daughter is having a hard time grasping the place values of millions and billions. She's frustrated, and I don't know any other way of teaching it other than the place value chart, and writing the numbers in the chart over and over again, reading lots of numbers until it becomes second nature to read millions, billions, etc by sight.

Do any of you have a good learning game for this, either online or off? Or a good strategy?

*SHe DOES get the ones, tens, and hundreds, and even thousands. There is some disconnect when the numbers get bigger.

I would love some ideas. :) Thanks!

Date Posted: 1/23/2009 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 3/20/2007
Posts: 931
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I highly recommend these books by David M. Schwartz:

  • What Makes a Million?
  • G is for Googol
  • How Much is a Million?
  • If you Made a Million
  • Millions to Measure
  • On Beyond a Million, an Amazing Math Journey

Do you have any math manipulatives?  If you had a thousands cube at least, you could show her visually, and hands-on, what one thousand looks like and then imagine 1000 of those.  It would help to have ones cubes, tens rods, and hundreds flats also, but she might get it with just a 1000's cube.

Here are some links from my son's favorite math site:




If you have access to Cosmeo (the have a free, one-month trial), I know there are place value videos on there, and ones for big numbers.  They also have different numbering system lessons and games that my son loves.


Last Edited on: 1/23/09 11:49 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/24/2009 10:43 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 227
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I'd look into Learning Resources games.  I have Dino Math Tracks which covers place values but only goes up to thousands.  They probably have one that covers millions & billions.  Learning Resources has GREAT games that are fun to play and always educational. I get mine from amazon.com.  Shannon 

Date Posted: 1/25/2009 4:24 PM ET
Member Since: 10/3/2007
Posts: 1,056
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Michelle, how old is your daughter ? If I remember right, she is very young (?).   With the ideas above and working with numbers in general she will get it in due time. That's one of the beauties of homeschooling. You do not have to rush ahead of their readieness.

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 10:47 PM ET
Member Since: 11/22/2008
Posts: 836
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I teach my second graders that digits are in sets of three.  Focus on starting from the right to the left, and "count the digits"....one, two, three, a comma, one, two, three, a comma etc.   Master the concept of the "grouping of three".

Now, If your daughter comprehends ones, tens, and hundreds for place value, and has a grasp of patterning, you build on the groups of three.

Ones, tens, hundreds.....comma means a new group, ....thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands.....comma means a new group....millions, ten millions, hundred millions.....comma means a new group.....billions, ten billions, hundred billions etc. 

Explain that the "ones" gets a new name ....the name for the  group  (of 3 digits)!  There is always a tens and hundreds in the group.

Kids learn in all different ways, and I find my auditory learners need the rhythmic chanting to grasp the concept.


Edited because this late at night....I forgot I wasn't reading left to right....it's math....right to left!!!!  lol

Last Edited on: 1/28/09 11:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1