Thursday, October 5, 2017

How many students are camping today?

Today Grades 3, 4, and 5 were away on a camping trip. In our school that is the bulk of the student body, so this estimation activity was ripe for the taking.

This year I have been trying to have my students estimate more. Today I asked my students the question above: Estimate how many are camping today.

They, of course, didn't know what "estimate" meant, but they need to learn the correct vocabulary. So I used the word "about" to explain what I meant. I started by asking how many students were in each class. 

One boy knew how many students were in Grade 5, so I asked the class to instead "estimate" how many students were in the class. 

They still didn't make the connection, so I wrote 20 and 30 on the board and asked which number was closer to their estimate. After they chose 20, I circled it and we moved on to the Grade 4 class.

For Grade 4 I tried a different strategy. Instead of giving them a range, I started counting up from 0 by 5s. I then asked them which they thought was the closest number to the estimate of the Grade 4 class. 

Next, we had a vote for what they thought the G3 student population was. For this number, we had a vote. 28 won.

I then added up their estimation (72) and added up the actual numbers (62). 

Not bad for their first time.


  1. I love that you used a real world activity for your math students. As you said, it was the perfect opportunity to explain estimation and show actual numbers. Math is real!

  2. Thank you Robbie. I learned a long time ago (the hard way - to look for opportunities to match the curriculum with the students' own lives.

    I get a lot of ideas from Dan Meyer and Bruce Ferrington.