H&R Block How Big Is a Billion WINNERS

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 Disclosure: This post brought to you by WeAreTeachers.

Recently H&R Block held a “How Big is a Billion” Contest for students and classrooms across America and their Dollars and Sense program awarded $19,000 in classroom grants!. Winners were chosen from Grades 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. You can see the list of winners HERE AND you can also check out the entries which are really creative!! One student compared the height of a waterfall and how many times you would have to multiply it to get to a billion. Another student compared a billion seconds equivalent to years of life. And yet another compared how many Oreos could be bought with one billion dollars, and how many Olympic size swimming pools it would take to fill up with that many Oreos! My son LOVES numbers and comparing things like this so I can’t wait to see down with him and not only read through the list of contest entries and their matching infographic but also for us to make our own at home! This would make a great classroom project and really something fun to come up with as the end of the year is approaching! (YEAH!)

H&R infographicPhoto Source on Pinterest

There is a certain point for each child when a number is just so big they can’t quite wrap their head around how much it actually is – and I think one billion is one of those numbers! So breaking it down into more relavant sizes like Oreos and years of age is a fantastic idea! It’s a little more pertinent and measurable for them. I would break the students up in groups or 4-5, give them some time to come up with an idea, and then once they’ve nailed down the idea they want to stick with have them research it and create a visual (poster or 3D) for their “one billion” representation. Definitely have the students check out the other contest entries here to get their creative juices flowing!

TIPS for Encouraging Your Kids to Participate in Math

I admit, let’s face it – math isn’t exciting for everyone. In fact there are a lot of students that just despise math. BUT math is a very important thing to learn in life for SO many reasons and there are ways that you can make it more enjoyable for your students. Here are a few fun ideas for your kids to practice math in a hands-on way:

Launch a rocket and determine how far it landed from it’s launching pad. 

Hang a solar system in scale model down the school hallway.

Launch water balloons in a slingshot and determine the distance it travels.

More about the campaign
This campaign was spun off of H&R Block’s “Get Your Billion Back, America” campaign which shed light that Americans leave more than $1 billion on the table each year by doing their own taxes. Based off of the “How Big is a Billion” challenge to students they learned that $1 billion would be enough money to provide $20 of school supplies to each public school student across the USA from pre-K through 12th! The winning idea for Grades 4-6 compared $1 billion to the years of lunch trays that would be provided to their school. The winning entry for Grades 7-9 broke down $1 billion salary into amount made per hour of the day for an entire year. And the Grades 10-12 winning entry broke down 1 billion baseball pitches spread out over a set amount of seasons in the MLB. The campaign was formed in partnership with WeAreTeachers. 

CONGRATULATIONS to Kandice for winning our giveaway!


Who wants a $15 Amazon Gift Card?! I could think of a billion uses (no pun intended!) for it! TO ENTER just leave a comment below with an idea for measuring a billion with your kids/students! Whether it’s how much money is a billion nickels to how much room it would take up if you had a billion elephants! You don’t need the exact answer – just a fun idea to test out with your kids! The giveaway is ONLY open for 24 hours so it ends on 4/16/2014 at 10AM CST!!!





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  1. Katie Amanda says:

    I’d find what could hold a billion gallons of water? The Grand Canyon? An Ocean?


  2. Renee Clark says:

    I teach special education and some of our ideas were:
    How many Bottles of Gatorade would you have to drink every day for a year to reach a billion.
    How many cars can you buy with a billion dollars?
    How long would a billion dollars last of you spent 1 dollar every school day on ice cream.

  3. I think my students would like to know how far you would go if you walked a billion steps.

  4. How old would you be if you lived for a billion days?

  5. My idea would be to ask kids how many stars they think there are in our galaxy(there are actually 200 billion)

  6. Since I teach preschoolers, a billion is way beyond their comprehension. Let’s face it, it is kind of beyond my own comprehension other than a really big number, way bigger than how old I am.

    We might talk about a billion along with the story of Abraham and God’s promise to give him descendants that number as many as the stars of grain of sand.

  7. I would definitely tie it into math. Figuring out how many of something we could buy. How many pencil s or books it would be? How many schools we could buy? Then I would have them look at the sky because there are billions of stars!!

  8. My high school students could somehow figure out how big a piece of carbon would be if it contained a billion atoms! 🙂

  9. Gwen Grubb says:

    How many stadiums would it take to hold a billion footballs?

  10. amanda hotchkin says:

    I would read the book how much is a million then have the student spilt into groups and create billion as a class.

  11. Katie Canady says:

    How many silly bands could I make with a billion dollars?
    How heavy would a billion dollars be?

  12. Stephanie Swims says:

    We have been learning about dinosaurs and talking about how long ago they lived (billions of years!). I might be fun to see what a billion plastic dinosaur counters would look like!

  13. Jeanette Hawkinson says:

    I would have them see how many 32 GB flash drives they would need to hold a billion average size audio files. (CTE teacher) 🙂

  14. Madelyn Valentin says:

    Ask my students name some of a billion ways they can help each other become good leaders.

  15. Kristi Miller says:

    Using measurement, how long (or how many miles) would be equivalent to a billion inches?

  16. Melanie C says:

    I think my students would like to see a billion flash drives, a billion floppy disks, or a billion likes on a post on our class blog.

  17. Create a book with one billion characters? How many pages will the book have? Describe how you arrived at your answer. What factors will influence your results?

  18. Hello! Well, we actually had this conversation just the other day. We talked about what we could buy with a billion dollars. My husband and I recently went to the Money Museum in Kansas City MO and they had a billion dollars in a display case and so of course I took a picture of it to show my firsties! We even looked up ways to spend a billion dollars! Another one could be how far would a billion people go holding hands! 🙂

  19. I teach special education and last month talked to third graders about disability awareness. I gave each student a paper hand and they held them up and took a pledge to include all people with disabilities. I think it would be neat to see how many hands of others it would take to reach a billion when linked together.

  20. Nicole L. says:

    Have students take out the shopping catalogs and try to figure out how they would spend a billion. After figuring out that maybe the Neiman Marcus catalog might be faster, students would see that’s billion is quite more than than bargained for.

  21. Crystal Coleman says:

    We have been preparing for Arbor Day next week. The kids wonder if there are a billion trees in North America.

  22. I teach the 3rd grade, so it would be fun to collect a billion beans or paperclips to visualize what a billion looks like. I teach at a school with 1,000 students, so it would be fun to include the entire school and create a display. It would definitely be a school year project!

  23. I would create a graph or chart of some type with my 2nd graders and try to figure out how many millions are in a billion, how many hundred thousands, etc… We do a place value in 2nd grade up to thousands. I think this would be a good way to see how incredibly large 1 billion truly is!

  24. I would ask students to imagine how they would spend a billion dollars and what that would look like. But, they could not spend it on themselves. I would have them do research for costs, items, and total up their spending. They would have one day to complete. They would probably see that it is not that easy to spend so much money at one time!

  25. Veronica R says:

    How many billions of gallons of water does the ocean hold? The Atlantic? The Pacific? All the oceans on the planet?

  26. Sam Crust says:

    How long would a music piece last that had a billion notes in it? Mind you, the piece wouldn’t necessarily be made specifically of all quarter notes, half notes, etc., but within reason, a guess could be made. Also, it could be viewed from the perspective of a single melody, or if you were look at a entire orchestral pieces with a variety of instruments. So, what’s your thought? How long would a piece last that had ONE BILLION notes in it?

  27. Sarah Novey says:

    What about measuring 1 billion ladybugs since Spring arrived? 😉

  28. Laura Hayes says:

    How many years would a billion days be?? That would be fun and interesting to solve!

  29. How many classrooms would you need if your school had 1 billion students?

  30. Kara Cole says:

    How many classrooms would be needed to hold a billion dollars in one dollar bills?

  31. How many jars does it take to hold a billion m&ms? Yum!

  32. Desiree pirog says:

    I teach elementary students ages 7-8. I would have the students think about writing a billion letters to our class pen pals. We would look at breaking down how many letters would we have to write a day in order to reach a billion letters by the end of the school year. We would really know ALL about our pen pals after that ?!!?

    With the hot. weather coming. You could also think about gallons of water . You could talk about having a billion gallons of water in your pool. You could have the students break down how many gallons it would take to fill up your pool. !!!

  33. How far would you get around the world (or how many times around) if you took one billion steps?

  34. My math-aficionado preschooler would love to think of a billion ways to add and subtract numbers to get an answer of 100.

    Thanks for a fun contest!

  35. Robi Bautzmann says:

    I would challenge my sixth graders to find the billionth digit in Pi!!

  36. I teach special needs preschool, so the concept of a billion is WAY beyond their scope of understanding. I would probably bring in a poster or some type of visual to show my students the concepts of a million and a billion.

  37. Chris Dunlap says:

    How tall would a stack of 1 billion Lego bricks be?

    How long would 1 billion squares of toilet paper be…and what landmarks could represent that distance? Would you travel across the country, around the globe, or to the moon…and back?

    How long would a line of 1 billion hot wheels be when placed one after another bumper to bumper?

  38. Sherry Heckman says:

    How long would it take you to hula hoop one billion times?

  39. I teach preschool and a billion would be hard for them to comprehend. However, maybe we could talk about how many stars would make a billion or something like that…they enjoyed learning basic concepts about space and astronauts a couple months ago…so why not find a way to work in something about a BILLION stars?! Could be fun! 🙂

  40. Myron Brubacher says:

    I live in Canada and we have been blessed with an extra hard winter. I would like to compare a billion to the billions of individual snowflakes that are needed to make a big white snow drift. Pretty fascinating to think about!!!

  41. The preschoolers I work with would probably like to see how much one billion M & M’s would fill their classrooms.

  42. I teach third grade, and I think it would be fun to see how many days/years a billion seconds would be. I wonder how old they would all be after a billion seconds?

  43. How much sand would be one billion grains of sand? Would it fit in your shovel, your beach pail, the sandbox in the park or would you need a whole dump truck to hold all those grains of sand?

  44. Amanda Hill says:

    How much is a billion dollars? How many train cars would be filled with money to pay off the national debt. Calculate volume using beans. Beans represent money used to fill train car to hold all the money….you can use pennies also and each penny is equal to 100 dollars. 8th graders think the national debt activity is very interesting.

  45. I teach preschool. My students are always fascinated with dinosaurs and how they lived a billion years ago
    Such a difficult concept but we say how it was before their great great great great great grandparents were born

  46. Hannah Abernathy says:

    How many elementary schools (our size) would it take to reach one billion students?

  47. I would challenge my fourth graders with: If you had one billion Easter eggs lined up end to end would it circle the Earth and if so how many times?

  48. Determine how many years it would take for us to make one billion dollars if we combine all of our salaries together using our dream job as our “salary.”

  49. To realistically measure a billion? I’m stumped. But to improve our school culture and community, we could start a billion acts of kindness. They could carry over from year to year and have milestone celebrations as time goes by. Imagine coming together years later to celebrate.

  50. In 8th grade science we could relate it to how many cells are in our bodies!

  51. How far could we get taking a billion steps?

  52. What about how many gyms would it take to hold a billion basketballs?

  53. If you started saving money as soon as you turned one, how long would it take you to become a billionaire if you started with a one dollar?

  54. Ysabel Salazar says:

    I teach a project-based technology class for 7-9th grades. I was able to brainstorm a few ideas:
    If a book contains 1 billion words, how many pages would it contain? (They would have to first calculate how many average words per page)
    How many people would 1 billion grains of rice feed?
    (And a fun one) If you took 1 selfie every second of your life, how old would you be when you take selfie #1 billion? Lol

  55. How much storage space would you need to hold a billion songs? My teens love music!

  56. Julie Arroyo says:

    Figure out how many rolls of tp you need to have a billion sheets

  57. Dawn Tuininga Rajala says:

    How many people would a billion grains of rice feed?

  58. I would find where all the billion glue stick caps have gone. 🙂

  59. Juana arriaga says:

    1 billion drops of water would fit in a pail, pool, lake?

  60. Teaching kindergarten, a billion is a very hard concept for them to grasp! We are currently measuring using standard and nonstandard units. It would be fun to discuss with them how to measure a billion “something’s” and what standard and nonstandard unit would help us to do so.

  61. Crystal Smith-Herman says:

    How many schools it would take to hold a billion students. Making it into a math project.

  62. My little guy is obsessed with his birthday, so we’d see how old he was after 1 billion seconds!

  63. Since Earth day is approaching, I would ask my students if they think it woul be possible to plant 1 billion trees and and long and at how many different places. Can you collect 100 billion bottles to recycle? We have also been learning about maps. They could draw a map of the locations in which they planted there tees. Could u collect 1 billion dollars to donated pears Earth Day.

    1. I made a lot of typos, oops!!

  64. How many grains of rice are in a bowl of cooked rice? How many people could be fed with a billion grains of rice???

  65. I’d figure out how deep/thick the coverage of a billion quarters covering the surface area of the state of Texas.

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