Easy Estimation

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Mathematics, Algebra and Function, Problem Solving

Grade 1- 3


Students learn about using estimation to solve problems.


Using Estimation for Math Snacks
Estimation is an important math strategy. Working with estimation can be an enjoyable addition to the daily math snacks activities. Children love to guess how many there are of something and then count to see how close they came to the actual number answer. One way to provide students with practice in estimating is to present them with a small sampling of a snack and have them estimate and count the items they have in front of them. Another method is to provide one large class snack and take several guesses as to how many there are of the item before counting the entire snack in front of the class. As you do this you are providing students with models of how to group and of the various strategies used for counting.
You can also take guesses on a large class snack and divide the counting responsibility among small groups of students. When each group has finished counting its sample, you can model for the class, showing how you add two-digit and three-digit numbers to find a total.
Another estimation strategy is to use the serving information on snack packages to model how you, as the teacher, often decide whether a snack will be enough for the class. It is also a way to show the multiplication of larger numbers in a real-life setting.
Yet another estimation strategy requires that you reveal more and more information until the students can accurately determine the total number of items in the container. This method takes a little more preparation on the teacher's part. Have students guess a total number based only on the external size of the container. After the students have recorded their initial guesses, remind them that they cannot change the initial answer, but they can alter the following answers once you tell them more information. Next, tell the students how many of the item fit inside one cup. At this point, they can write a new answer down, or they can record the old answer if they feel it is still a reasonable answer. Finally, tell the students how many cups fill the container. Now, the students do the majority of their thinking as they know how many cups of items are in the container and how many items are in each cup. Require that they show their thinking processes on paper and come up with final estimations as to how many items are in the container. As with all math snacks activities, students should communicate their answers and their thinking. When all estimation attempts have been made, count the items to find the actual total.


  • any small snack
  • Easy Estimation activity page
  • pencils

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