Extreme numbers

10 - 11 years
Ideas to help your child practise their numeracy skills - with you, and online
Girl holding a calculator

Developed in partnership with Education Services Australia

The Australian Curriculum sets the goal for what all students should learn as they progress through their school life. Skills in the Year 5-6 curriculum include:

  • using numbers larger than 100 000
  • using numbers beyond 1 million
  • understanding that place value continues into millions, billions, etc
  • reading large numbers.

It’s easy to help your child practise these skills as part of everyday life – just use these simple ideas.

Go beyond six figures

Your child might not be counting their savings in millions yet, but it’s important that they master numbers of more than five digits. Here are some ideas for helping them:

  • find large numbers in newspapers, the internet and other sources and help your child read them aloud
    Here's a statistic from the census, can you read it? ‘In 2016 there were 23,401,892 people in Australia.’
  • have fun creating large numbers on a calculator, then practise reading them aloud
  • encourage your child to find large numbers about things that they are interested in
    How many netball players are there in Australia? How many in the world?
    How many times has your favourite song been downloaded worldwide?
    How many kilometres is it from Earth to the nearest star?
  • notice abbreviations for large numbers, and talk about the actual numbers being represented – eg $6m means six million dollars
  • when looking at large numbers from different countries or time periods, talk about how the word billion has a different value in the short scale and long scale systems:

    in most English-speaking countries:
       one billion = a thousand millions = 1 000 000 000 = 109 (short scale)

    in most continental European countries:
       one billion = a million millions = 1 000 000 000 000 = 1012 (long scale).

    So a billion in French, Spanish or German is one thousand times more than a billion in Australia! (Australia and the UK used to use the long scale too, so be careful when comparing numbers from historical sources.)

    Some countries with two languages (eg Canada and South Africa) use the short scale in one language and the long scale in the other language. Other countries (eg India, China and Japan) have completely different numbering systems.

Go online

For online reinforcement, you can use Choose your own statistics to give your child practice at:

  • presenting data (numbers) graphically
  • creating your own graphs.

For example, choose the Demographics section and talk about what the numbers mean. Which numbers are more than one million? What's the largest number?



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Last modified
7 April 2020