Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Million Dollar Gift

Annette Nixon
Santa Rosa District Schools


A homework project in which students use problem-solving skills and their knowledge of volume to create a box large enough to hold a million dollars. The project is fun to do near the winter holidays with inexpensive gifts included in the boxes.


The student selects the appropriate operation to solve problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of rational numbers, ratios, proportions, and percents, including the appropriate application of the algebraic order of operations.

The student adds, subtracts, multiplies, and divides whole numbers, decimals, and fractions, including mixed numbers, to solve real-world problems, using appropriate methods of computing, such as mental mathematics, paper and pencil, and calculator.

The student uses concrete and graphic models to derive formulas for finding perimeter, area, surface area, circumference, and volume of two- and three-dimensional shapes, including rectangular solids and cylinders.

The student uses direct (measured) and indirect (not measured) measures to compare a given characteristic in either metric or customary units.

The student selects and uses appropriate instruments, technology, and techniques to measure quantities in order to achieve specified degrees of accuracy in a problem situation.


-(All materials are required at home, except for the worksheet.)
-One worksheet per student
-A dollar bill (any denomination is fine)
-Tape measure / ruler
-Sturdy tape
-Gift under $5 (optional)
-Wrapping paper (optional)


1. It is highly recommended that the lesson, Who Wants To Carry a Million?, is done first in class. (See Weblinks.)
2. Copy worksheets, one per student.


1. It is strongly recommended that an activity like this is done in class before trying it at home. See the Beacon Teacher Lesson plan, Who Wants To Carry a Million Dollars, listed in the Weblinks. Advanced or gifted students may be able to proceed without previous experience.

2. If this is done without the previous class activity, discuss with students the -size- of a million dollars and brainstorm with them how you find this -size- or volume. For all students, discuss how the denomination of the bill used will affect the volume of the money. (Decide what denominationis to be used on the project. The $20 is good, but produces a large box, larger than a copy paper box. If classroom space to hold the projects is a concern, try the $50.) If a large denomination is used, discuss whether the students need access to an actual $50 bill. Are all bills the same size? Yes, they are supposed to be. Slight variances will cause small differences in the answers on the projects which is okay.

3. Pass out the project packet and go over it with the students. Be sure to give an opportunity for questions. Point out that the box must be within a limit of 1000 cubic cm below or above the volume of the money. It sounds like a large allowance, but it is more difficult than it sounds to fit the box exactly. This may need to be adjusted if using a larger denomination.

4. Offer suggestions for finding or creating a box. Students often don't know where to start. First, they must have their volume of the money. Find any box and measure it, and then find the volume. If it is too small, look for a larger box. If it is too large, tell students to cut the box down with parents' help.

5. If gifts are to be included, stress that it must be inexpensive (under $5 is good) and must be something someone would want. Nice ideas include a 12-pack of soda, a pack of nice cookies, a large bag of candy, a movie rental git certificate, something gender appropriate, etc.


A rubric is included in the attached file to assist in grading. When checking the worksheet, focus on complete and understandable answers, showing all steps in the calculations.

Web Links

Web supplement for Million Dollar Gift
Who Wants To Carry A Million?

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