Exploring the estimation station in pre-k

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on February 5, 2012

in Estimation Station, Mathematics

I took some of our math tokens that we collected from our math bags and added a few other items then placed them into baby food jars for our estimation station. I will continue to add more jars but today, we started with a nice selection of about 12 different jars of tokens to estimate…

The jars are sitting on a cupcake holder that I won last year from The Cupcake Blog. Since I rarely do any baking, the cupcake holder has been sitting in a box since I got it.  I finally decided that the cupcake holder would make a fun stand for our estimation station and will probably use it for other ideas too later on. Sometimes, finding a new way to display or present materials to the children makes the process more inviting to the children.   As soon as the children walked in and saw our estimation station, they began asking all about it…

We talked about the process first. I explained to the children that they were to pick a jar and make a guess of how many tokens were in the jar….

The challenge in introducing estimation to preschoolers is that often times the children do not want to take a guess for fear of guessing wrong. I have found that I often make it worse when I make a big deal about how close their guess was to the right answer.  So I am learning to respond by listening to their response and conclusions throughout the process rather than making any comments of my own…

After looking over the jar and making a guess of how many tokens are in the jar, the children then open the jar and spread the tokens out on their counting board…

We talked about how organizing their tokens help with counting the total number of tokens…

Some of my students naturally organize their tokens for counting and others still do not seem to get this concept at all. They just start counting – I don’t worry about it either way right now since this is such a new process for us. Over time and with practice, my students will figure out what works well for them and how to organize the materials where they can keep track of them…

After estimating and counting their tokens, the children placed the tokens back in their jar and then picked a new jar to start the process all over again.  Some of the jars only held a small number of tokens and some of the jars held a large number of tokens. Sometimes, the children would discover that there were far more tokens in the jar than they anticipated. They would often decide that there were just too many to count.  Realizing that there were more tokens in the jar than they originally anticipated was an important part of the estimating experience whether they ended up counting all the tokens or not….

I will continue to add new jars of tokens to our estimation station and we will continue to explore our math tokens in other ways as well. I look forward to seeing what else we come up with!

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