Looking for a fun way to get your students to practice estimating? I use a take-home assignment called the "Estimation Station". It's pretty simple and lots of fun! Keep reading if you'd like to try it!
Before I send this home with kids, I do a lot of modeling and practice in the classroom. The main strategy I use to help students learn to develop their estimation skills is determining a benchmark. The following image is very popular on Pinterest (I assume the original source is Teacher Created Materials. The pins did not take me to the exact source.), probably because it explains the strategy very well- help students determine a part or layer, a set of 10 or 20, for example, that they can then use to form an estimate.
After a couple of months doing the Estimation Station together during our daily calendar math time, I decided to make it a home activity.
I typed up directions for parents and made some cute labels for both the folder and the container. Then I found an extra library bag (supplied by my school) to use as a way to transport the items to and from school. If you'd like a copy, just click on the image below for the shared doc.
I explained to my class that I would pull two names a week (that way a couple kids get to do it each week without it losing as much novelty). Each student gets two night to prepare, so if they take it home on Monday, they need to bring it back by Wednesday to share with the class.
Since I love to use songs to teach concepts and/or signal transition times, I also set out to look for a cute estimation song. I found the following from Heidi Songs on Youtube. I changed the lyrics slightly to say, "Estimate, estimate, I use my best thinking and then I estimate." We leave out the part about "you're close, but I'm closer." That just made estimating sound competitive- why? For movements, the kids move their hands and gently tap their head like they are thinking deeply! After all, we are a "thoughtful" classroom ;) When I start singing this song, my kids know to make a circle on the carpet and get ready for the share.
During the share, the Estimation Station Supervisor shows the container and tells us what item is inside. He/she walks around the circle showing the container briefly to the students to allow them to judge a benchmark from which to base their estimate.
Then I collect estimates on the white board. I don't bother recording names as they usually remember what they've said, plus, I don't want to make the estimate "personal." Early learners can still be quite sensitive about being "wrong" and I try to encourage a growth mindset with this activity. I remind them that no one is always correct when estimating!
Finally the "supervisor" counts out the items into sets of ten so we can check the actual amount.
So far, students have shared legos, origami paper cranes (yes, she made each one!) candies and marbles! My class LOVES it and it gives us the opportunity to discuss how to come up with reasonable estimates- lots of great thinking and math talk!
How do you teach estimation in your class?
Thanks for stopping by,