Teaching math can be challenging, but it can also be a lot of fun! When teaching young kids, being able to make their learning interesting and hands-on results in children remembering what they learned. Combining a math worksheet and activity is a great way to keep kids engaged.
One of my favourite activities that I did with my class this year was our Estimation Station. This activity is so easy 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 children would quickly 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.
How to Set Up an Estimation Station
Every Monday morning, I would fill the estimation station with something different. I used a clear plastic container and used whatever I had on hand. You can use anything – from cotton swabs or marbles to apples and stones, anything you have a collection of will work.
In my classroom, I had a class list near our jar. Over the course of the week children 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 from week to week 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.
Finding the Actual Amount
Fridays were always my favourite! The kids were always so excited to find out the actual amount in the estimation station.
There was so much learning that then happened during this math period and one of the best things about it was that my students didn’t even feel like they were doing math. They were engaged and excited to do the activities.
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, children 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 children 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 also represented our numbers in base ten blocks and tally marks.
The math that the estimation station encourages is endless. My students became amazing estimators by the end of the year! Since this was a weekly activity, having an opportunity to reinforce these key math concepts on an ongoing basis was beneficial.
I often had my students complete a Estimation Station Worksheet to further their understand of the math we were covering.
The worksheet I created and used 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.
Depending on how much time you have to explore your estimation station, another option for some extra math is looking at all of the estimates from the children and plotting them on a number line. You can also use all of the estimates and have children put them in order from least to greatest.
I found that the estimation station was really easy to incorporate into any math unit we were doing at the time. When we were talking about 3D geometry, I filled the estimation station with 3D solids/shapes. This way when kids were estimating they were talking about the shape names and recognizing them in the container.
To set up your estimation station, you only need a clear plastic jar! Use materials from around your house or classroom to fill your jar. For a great plastic jar, with a lid, ideal for an estimation station, click on the link below.
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For more engaging activities for kids click below.