The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

Estimation Station Ideas


Estimation-Station-Title-GrDo you use an estimation station in your weekly learning opportunities?

I have to say that this is one of the most fun things for my children. Each Monday our estimation station showcases a container filled with something related to what we are learning. It is such a fun way to get your children THINKING and practicing real estimation skills.

So how does it work? Simply fill a container with like items, such as cotton balls or pretzels. Have each child record his or her estimation of the number of items in the container on a piece of paper (we like mini post-its). After each child has guessed, then we empty the container and count together to get an actual count.

The purpose is not to correctly guess the exact number, but rather to improve the child’s ability to guess a reasonable amount based on the size of both the items and the containers.

Some of my favorite things to put in our estimation station are:

Unifix cubes in fall colors
Leaves we have collected
Football-shaped erasers
Mini pumpkins or gourds



Cotton balls
Fake ice cubes
Unifix cubes in winter colors (blue and white for January; red, pink, and purple for February)



Gold coins for St. Patrick’s Day
Seeds or dry beans
Glass beads in spring colors
Cotton ball chicks
Plastic Easter eggs


Any time of the year:
Plastic toys (cars, dinosaurs, Legos)
Erasers (you can also showcase a theme, such as fruit-shaped erasers)
Pencils (unsharpened work best)

BONUS learning activities after you have an exact count:

  • Compare the difference between your child’s estimate and the actual count
  • Ask your child to round to the nearest ten or hundred
  • Construct a graph of everyone’s guesses and the actual amount

What other ways can you use an estimation station with your children? Please share your ideas in the comments section!

Amy Michaels ProfileAmy Michaels is a certified teacher with 11 years of elementary classroom experience who is actively homeschooling her own children. Her mission is share the best teaching methods and resources with all homeschoolers. Amy supports parents through her podcasts, webinars, and online training for homeschoolers on her website

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