How Many? Estimating Activity

estimation station for kids uo

Every day items make great math manipulatives . When my son’s preschool class did a similar lesson using nice counting bears I knew I wanted to do it at home but with stuff I already had in my art closet.  This activity was great because it gave my son a chance to do things he loves like estimate and count as well as things he resists doing like writing . All with things I had around the house!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some jars or clear plastic containers, small items to pop in them , paper, a pencil, and a clip board. For some reason if I put paper on a clip board my son is way more excited to write than plain old paper.
  2. Start by filling the jars with small objects.  I used corks, pom poms and plastic frog toys. Make sure there are enough to make it a little challenging, they shouldn’t be able to easily count the manipulatives when they are in the jar. 
  3. Write a simple chart to record the items are in each jar . We only recorded the estimates but you can also write the results. I want to encourage my son to write but without pushing.
  4. Time to estimate!
  5. Write it down.
  6. Open and count.
  7. Repeat with other jars . 
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  1. Discovering Montessori says

    This is a really neat idea! I was thinking about an activity that would interest the preschoolers to visit the math area more often this is perfect. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Christina says

    Being housebound during a storm had me turning to your site, and I loved this activity. I did it with my 4 year old–we also added the idea of “DIfference,” talking about how many were between his estimate (all his favorite numbers, like 4 and 100) and the actual count.
    Thanks for such a simple and great idea!


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