Establish a regular center in the room which changes weekly. A simple clear plastic container is filled with different items each week. These items should vary in size to challenge students' developing concept of volume, as it relates to smaller or larger units. Use seasonal items: acorns, leaves, candy corn, popcorn kernels, pumpkin seeds, etc. to spark student interest. Keep a class journal of these activities in which students may record their estimates. Record the item and the actual count along with a digital picture, if possible, of the container and the student(s) whose estimates were closest. Some classes involve parents by asking for volunteers to send in appropriate items to be counted. It is important to use the same container for several weeks so that students build an understanding that size matters in estimating how many items there are in the jar.
- Download Estimation Station Recording Sheets to use for this activity. Keep sheets in a binder to provide a growing record of student growth in estimating.
- Suggestions for using recording sheets: Have each student write his/her name and estimate on Page 2. After counting, circle or color in the student(s) whose estimates were closest. Teachers may elect to print in names at the beginning of the year and simply copy each week so that student names are always in the same location for easy checking.
- Take a picture: Use a digital camera to record the winner(s) holding the jar each week. Add the picture to page one by simply covering the estimation jar clip art.
Math-Literature Connection - Estimation: The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Stephen Kroll would be a great literature connection for a Huge Pumpkin Estimation Station or to introduce a class pumpkin sorting activity.
- Read more about these pumpkin activities in Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere.
Math-Literature Connection - Estimation: The Candy Corn Contest by Patricia Reilly Giff would be a great literature connection for a Candy Corn Estimation Station, as described in the book. The sneaky teacher in this story required that students read a page in a library book for each guess they submitted. Math teachers might vary this requirement to include some fun math practice as a way to earn guessing rights. Either way, incorporating the actual candy corn jar estimation is a great seasonal variation of the Estimation Station described above.