Really Big Numbers: The 100 Dots Project

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The book Really Big Numbers takes kids on a fun journey. Here's a neat activity to get you started!The AMS sent me a copy (for free, yay me!) of their first publication ever – Really Big Numbers by Evan Schwartz. I loved reading the first few pages with K8, and it gave me an idea.

What if I used this in class to introduce numbers?

I started teaching at a private, special education school recently. I quickly figured out that everything I know about math education is wrong. I thought this book (and the activity that spawned from it) might work well.

And for once, with these kids, I was right!

Read only as much as you want…

Schwartz compares the book to a game of father-daughter bucking bronco: “The game is to stay on for as long as you can.”

For a book that’s¬†192 pages long, this is very helpful advice!

Schwartz gets us to 100 and then shows a few pages with 100 dots on them.¬†At about page 26, there’s a prompt that any teacher would recognize as an activity:

Create a picture with 100 dots!

“Try to make your own picture with 100 dots,” it reads.

So we did.

Enter the 100 Dots Project!

Each student got construction paper and some time with the die cut circle punch. The instructions: Make a picture with 100 dots.

Some students made actual pictures, some made pretty arrays. Some counted the dots first. Some counted them as they went.

And some students just glued dots until they felt like they had 100.

“How many dots DO you have?”

So the big question was, “Do you really have 100 dots?”

It took me a while to get them to count them (accurately) and not mess up their art.

I paperclipped an overhead projection transparency sheet on top of their work. Then they got a print-out of a Hundreds Chart and the die cut circle punch, again.

The new instructions: Glue 100 numbered dots on top of your dots (on the transparency) so we can see how many you really have.

Turned out that we had a wide range of numbers of dots. My favorite was this one:

Here's one students 100 Dots Project.

Bigger Numbers and More Activities

We’ll continue the book soon. I haven’t read past where we stopped, so I can’t wait to see what we’ll be up to next!

In the meantime, what kinds of pictures would your students come up with if offered the 100 Dots Project?

Give it a shot and ask others in your PLN how they’d like it too! Here’re the handy links to share on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

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