The Joy of a Giant Jelly Bean Math Picture Book

It’s not even mid-October and my children have Halloween candy on their minds. If your children/students are anything like mine, here’s a candy-filled math picture book to satisfy their sweet teeth.

The Book

How Many Jelly Beans? A Giant Book of Giant Numbers was written by Andrea Menotti and illustrated by Yancey Labat. Published in 2012 by Chronicle Books, it’s perfect for 4 years and up.

Aiden and Emma can’t decide how many jelly beans are enough. Is 10 enough? How about 1000? Spoiler: While they decide that 1,000,000 would be too much, their candy-loving dog Murphy doesn’t think so. (Disclaimer:  Do not feed your dog jelly beans, not 10, not 100 and definitely NOT one million!)

How giant is this book? Measuring 11.25 inches by 14.25 inches, it’s the largest picture book on our shelf. The bright jelly bean illustrations in contrast to the adorable black and white cartoon characters talking in speech balloons make a sweet backdrop for the math in this book.



The Math


The book begins by asking whether 10 jelly beans are enough and continues this question with 20, 25, 50, 75 and a 100 jelly beans. Each time a certain number of jelly beans is presented, there is an accompanying illustration to support counting practice. Emma deems 500 jelly beans “too many”. However, Aiden declares he could eat 1,000 in a year. Reconsidering, Emma agrees since “that’s only 2 or 3 per day.”. [Cue cringing dentist].

The number of jelly beans continues to increase:  5,000, 10,000, 100,000, then you guessed it, 1,000,000. As the numbers get large, children can estimate (instead of counting each jelly bean) to check whether there really are ______ jelly beans on a particular page.

Here’s an image of the foldout pages at the end of the book. [These were NOT in our library copy when we first read this book. This is another reason this book is best saved for 4 years and up.  Yes, I’m blaming a (unknown) toddler for ripping the library book.] There you have it folks, 1 million jelly beans.


And I love when Aiden decomposes 100,000 into the flavors he would choose. IMG_8428 3

Aside from counting, decomposing numbers, and estimation, this book inspired some proportional reasoning described below.

The Magic

It isn’t hard to amaze children with large numbers. In fact, it isn’t hard to amaze adults. My husband loves to share the three bullet facts below about large numbers whenever he gets a chance.

  • 1 million seconds equal about 11 and 1/2 days. [1 million is 10^6]
  • 1 billion seconds equal about 31 and 3/4 years. [1 billion is 10^9]
  • 1 trillion seconds equal about 31,710 years. [1 trillion is 10^12]

While reading this book to my children (7 and 5), as the number of jelly beans increased, the intensity of my children’s reactions increased as well.  Cool! Whoa! That’s a LOT of jelly beans. That’s a million jelly beans?!

After reading this book, I wanted to see how my children would decompose 10 and 100,000 jelly beans according to flavor. Also, I needed an excuse to buy some jelly beans.  For mathematical reasons, of course.

If you had 10 jelly beans which flavors would you choose?

Siena:  green apple (3), mango(2), cotton candy(1), cherry(3) and super fruit(1).

Liam: Ice Cream (5), Honey (1), Cotton candy (3), Root Beer (1)



IMG_8424 2

Then we amped it up to 100,000 (hypothetical) jelly beans. What flavors would you choose if you had 100,000 jelly beans?

By this point, Siena was distracted and gobbling jelly beans, but Liam continued. At first, his decomposition by flavor was for 1,000 jelly beans not 100,000 (which he realized after adding them). He revised for a decomposition of 100,000 jelly beans.






Lastly, about those proportions. Whether he had 10 jelly beans, 1,000 or 100,000, Liam kept his flavors in the same proportion. The question we had was did Aiden in the book do that too? Here is a picture of Aiden’s flavor break down for 100,000. Note: He has 1 lemon (bright yellow).

Here is the book’s breakdown of 1 million jelly bean. Since 1,000,000 = 100,000×10, you would expect 10 lemon displayed amongst the 1 million jelly beans below. However, as you can see, there are a lot more than 10 bright yellow lemon jellybean’s in the picture. Either Murphy or Emma requested more lemon jelly beans or Aiden wasn’t interested in keeping the proportions the same.  At any rate, this page of one million jelly beans turned out be a wonder-full one.



Have a magical math book you’d like share? Please go to the Shared booklist to find out how.  If you’d like to receive these magical math book posts each Monday, be sure to follow this blog in the side bar of this page.

Thanks and see you next Monday! #mathbookmagic

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