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Rounding & Estimating:

Estimation Jars


Today's Snack: Something good that comes out of a jar is a dill pickle! Try one with a slice of deli ham wrapped around it. Wash it down with something sweet to drink, like cranberry juice.





Different sizes of containers

Your choice of items to fill them:

racquetballs, golf balls, ping pong balls, walnuts, cotton balls, pine cones, marbles, wrapped candy, etc.

Scrap paper, pencil and can at each estimation station

Ruler to measure volume of containers later



One of the most important math skills is estimation. We estimate numbers and quantities all the time in adult life. So it's a great thing for kids to practice.


You can do one or more estimation jars as you have time and materials. It might work to have five different "estimation stations" and let the students rotate. If you have a lot of students, they could work in pairs, or do a separate activity to give everyone time to make the estimates and temporarily fill the containers.


You could leave an empty can, scraps of paper and a pencil at each estimation station. Before they fill the jar, ask the students write down their guesses of how many of the same object they can get into the jar onto a piece of scrap paper, fold it up, and place it in the can.


Each guess should include the student's name as well as the guess. Afterwards, the students can compare who came closest.


Each session at the estimation stations should take just a couple of minutes. Encourage the students to neatly empty the objects back out so that the next student has no idea how many to guess.


You can wrap up by talking about volume, which is measured by height x length x depth, and how the students could use an estimate of each individual object plus an estimate of the container's overall volume to come up with a more accurate estimate.



By Susan Darst Williams Math 2010

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