How many? How much? It’s a practical, necessary skill that we use every day. How many minutes left before we have to go? How much spaghetti to cook for dinner tonight? Estimation is important for children, too. What better way than to introduce or reinforce the concept with a batch of ESTIMATION COOKIES? With these easy-as-1-2-3 cookies, children can estimate how many M&M’s are in each cookie before enjoying a melt in your mouth treat (Use M&M’s because they stay more intact than chocolate chips do and therefore, are easier to count).
1. How many steps is it from here to the classroom/kitchen door?
2. How long will it take to pick up everything from the floor? (Ha! Ha! A beauty of a question because it serves a double purpose!)
3. How many full tiles are there on the floor? (Maybe multiplication can come in handy here)
4. How many grapes in the bowl?
5. How many cups of milk in a glass?
The thing about estimation is to get kids to feel comfortable making a guess. At first, children may be hesitant to make a random guess and their estimates might be way off, but it’s so important to encourage an attempt. Estimation, like any skill, gets better the more you practice. With very young children, estimating how many cheerios in a spoonful or how many raisins in a box is a terrific way to promote counting skills, too. As children get more sophisticated, they may opt for a more efficient way of counting– ie, by 2’s or by 5’s. Estimating followed by checking by counting promotes number literacy. But an estimation ‘lesson’ doesn’t even have to be that formal. Whenever you’re at the grocery store, make a game of estimating how much the groceries will cost that day. Children might have no idea, but to try and then to learn the correct answer is to develop a sense of number, crucial for a solid mathematics foundation. It also makes the task of estimation a familiar, and therefore less scary, practice.
For a fun idea about estimating, try making these ESTIMATION COOKIES. They’re perfect for a rainy day or a make ahead weekend project for lunch boxes the following week.
1 stick butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup instant oatmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup M&M candies
Cream sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Add other ingredients and stir well. Stir in M&M’s. Bake around 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let cool and harden on the tray before moving the cookies to a tray. Estimate how many M&M’s are in a cookie and then, well, eat it to find out!