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Estimating Lesson
by Gail Englert

A response to the question:

I am looking for help with teaching third graders about estimation.

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I am looking for help with teaching third graders about estimation. I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some lesson plans that I could use with the students.

Thank You,


Dear Bonnie,

I like to have my students estimate areas, lengths, sums of columns of amounts, means, etc, and then color over their answers with a yellow crayon. (I tell them they are highlighting the answer, just like the kids in high school do.)

Then we count off a few, or add the first two, or do something to get a bit closer to the answer, and I ask them to evaluate their first estimate, and to decide if they will stick with it, make it larger, or decrease it. They can draw an X through their original estimate, and write a new one (which they should "highlight"). I usually take a "straw vote" just to let them see that many people change their answers, and it is fine to do so.

We do the same thing several more times, getting closer to the answer, but not more than halfway. Then I stop allowing them to change, and we figure out the rest of the answer.

It is interesting to watch them improve in their ability to estimate as the year goes on, because they have formed personal benchmarks by doing this sort of activity.

I almost forgot to tell you why I use the yellow crayon. It is so they cannot CHANGE the answer they wrote, so that they can become more comfortable with having an answer that is not correct, and learning from it, rather than just erasing it and putting in the amount that is correct!

-Gail, for the T2T service

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