One of my favourite activities that I did with my class this year was our Estimation Station. It is so simple to incorporate into any classroom and because of the amount of math and student engagement that results from this activity, I will always have an Estimation Station in my classroom! Beyond the hands-on part of the lesson and activity, I also often had students complete a math worksheet to further their learning. (Link to worksheet at bottom) This activity works well in a classroom setting, or can easily be done at home for homeschooling or distant learning.
Every Monday I had our Estimation Station jar filled with something different. The weekly items varied from seasonal items to simple toys that I had in the classroom. My favourite part was on Mondays when students would run into the classroom to check what the station was filled with for the week. They were always so excited! On Fridays we counted the amount of items in the jar. I used a plastic container, but any clear container would work.
In my classroom, I had a class list near our jar. Over the course of the week students would estimate how many items they thought were in the jar. They verbally gave a short explanation as to how they got their estimate, and then printed their estimate below their name. This activity can easily be done in the classroom, for homeschooling or for online learning.
I made sure to vary the size of the objects so that students began to notice that a jar half full of marbles is not the same amount as one half full of apples.
Some weeks I switched up our jars. One week I filled three jars with clothes pins, and I told children the total that were in 2 of the jars. They then compared the amount in the unknown jar to the two they knew. Children could see that the jar with the unknown amount was about half way between the full jar and the jar with 21 pins. They then figured out that their estimate should be between 21 and 78.
A few other ideas of how to switch up the estimation station, include, covering part of the jar and estimating based on the visible amount. Also, having the items create layers and telling students how many cubes are in one layer. When we were working on addition, I set out two jars for students to estimate how many were in each. They then added the two jars to find the total.
Our estimation station was always a focal point in our room and was part of our daily math.
Every Friday, I would lay our number line out on our carpet. Each student had a square with their name on it. Upon entering the room during our math period, students picked up their name and placed it on the number line to mark their estimate. We then counted all of the items in the jars. I brought each item out one by one and we counted them together as I set them on ten frames.
Depending on the day, we then did a variety of things! We talked about who had the closest estimate and students calculated how far away their estimate was from the actual amount. Some days, we counted our items off the ten frames by 2s, 5s, 10s, and 25s. We discussed if our numbers were even or odd. We represented our numbers in base ten blocks and tallys. The math that the estimation station encourages is endless. My students became amazing estimators by the end of the year!
I often had my students complete a Estimation Station Worksheet to further their understand of the math we were covering. The worksheet is available through Teachers Pay Teachers and is suitable for online learning.
Click the image (“Primary Math – Estimation Station”) below to purchase the Estimation Station worksheets. Sheets can be used for any Estimation Station and include representing numbers in ten frames, number lines and base 10 blocks. It has successfully been used in my primary classroom on an ongoing basis and now at home during distant learning.
For more engaging activities for kids click below.