Estimation Station Update & Freebie!

Estimation station has been a favorite activity in my class for years. In fact, this will be my third post about it! #overload? I hope not!

You can read my first post about how I was doing it here. In a nutshell, I was having each child write their estimate on a square of paper and we would line them up and do some cool math stuff. Here's a little peek, but the post itself has lots of details.
Then last year, I was super excited to review the most adorable little estimation station jar from Educational Insights so I updated my post and also added a little freebie you can use to introduce the estimation station jar to your parents at Open House, which is probably a little late for most of you this year. Sorries! I've been just keeping my head above water these days...but things are finally falling into place. You can read all the details about that here, but there's a little peek below:
And now, I've updated yet again! That's what keeps things fresh, right? I tend not to subscribe to the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra. However, if I did my life would be much simpler - but I've never been about simple, so... on to the update!

I'm still using the cutie estimation station jar from EI. It's holding up really well. I actually send it home each week with the winner and so far it's traveling ok. (Of course you know what's going to happen now that I said that. Everyone, quick! Knock on wood together!) This is the note I stick in the jar when they take it home. Click on the picture to download a copy. If you work in an area where parent participation is not something you can count on, feel free to fill the jar yourself with things you have in your room - dominoes, counters, legos, etc.
I really did like the way I was doing it before with the little slips of paper, but I did find it was taking me a long time and we all know, there's not really time to spare these days. So this year, I created an actual printable that the kids can use for the activity as we walk through it together. I like that I now have something to send home too, so the parents can see what the heck we're doing with jars full of gummy worms and jelly beans.

I created two versions, one if you have the cutie jar from EI and one if you don't. Click HERE to download them both.

So first, we oohed and ahhed over the gummy worms in the jar and then we filled in the top part together about last week's winner and what's inside. I modeled this on the Smartboard as we went along. Then we made our own estimates and recorded it on our sheest. Next week this part will be done in red pen to help one of my little cheaterpants maintain his integrity a bit better. Then I picked up the wormies in groups of five and the kids helped me count out loud and we recorded out actual number.  I filled up four plates because I have four tables and eventually each table would get one plate to share.
Depending on what's in your jar, the numbers to do the subtraction might be bigger than your kids are ready to handle, which was the case for me this week, so we pulled out the calculators. I don't know if they were more excited about the candy or the calculators! I had quite a few who had never even used one before, so this was a great way to introduce them. Then we worked through the rest of the sheet together, with me modeling on the board and the kids recording on their sheets.  The winner gets an Excellent Estimator brag tag and they take home the jar to fill for the upcoming week.

Then the moment they were dying for! Each student got a baggie to hold up like they were trick-or-treating and table captains washed their hands and divvied up the loot to their friends. Sorry moms who hate me right now for giving your kids gummy worms at 9:30 in the morning! But each kid only got a handful. We ate 2 and then saved the rest for lunch dessert.

I would say it took about 25 minutes to do the activity this way, but it was our first time, so you have to allow all the time for directions, modeling, etc. I think I can get it down to 15 minutes eventually. That's a lot faster than the old way I was doing it. I do like both ways and there's no reason why I can't switch it up from time to time.

Key concepts you'll be practicing all year with estimation station: understanding the terms difference and estimate, subtraction, skip counting, using a calculator, benchmark estimations, and cooperation.

However you do it, it's bound to be a favorite classroom activity that adds some hands-on learning and fun to your normal math routine. Have fun, my friends!


  1. I found your blog through TpT and I loved reading how you do estimation station. In my second grade class we used estimating as a station during math centers- so they would estimate one week, sort the objects the following week and then graph them the following week. While I loved doing it that way, I like how you did it all together and could work through things like the number being too big to subtract. I also like the idea of the kiddos getting to take the jar home and fill it up - a great way to get a variety of objects to use each week. Great ideas! Thanks!

    One, Two, Three: Math Time

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  3. This is excellent! I'm one of those moms cringing over the candy though. I'm not using any candy/sweets in my classroom. Do you think the kids would enjoy it if we used non-edible items (like paper clips, dry beans, etc.)? Thanks!


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