Estimation Destination

In this lesson, children will trace their own hands and estimate how many Fruit Loops it will take to the tracings.

Lesson for:

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Data Analysis and Probability
Numbers and Operations

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers and number systems
  • Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize and display relevant data to answer these questions
  • Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems and processes of measurement
  • Apply appropriate techniques, tools and formulas to determine measurement
  • Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Counting with understanding and recognizing “how many” in sets of objects
  • Sorting, classifying and ordering objects by size, number and other properties
  • Recognizing the attributes of length, volume, weight, area and time
  • Understanding how to measure using nonstandard and standard units
  • Selecting an appropriate unit and tool for the attribute being measured
  • Measuring with multiple copies of units of the same size, such as paper clips laid end to end
  • Using tools to measure
  • Posing questions and gathering data about themselves and their surroundings
  • Representing data using concrete objects, pictures and graphs
  • Discussing events related to students’ experiences as likely or unlikely

Estimation Destination

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Boxes of Fruit Loop cereal (or any other small, round-shaped cereal such as colored Cheerios)
  • Handouts with room for the children to trace their hands, with fill-in-the-blank spaces at the bottom of the page labeled “ESTIMATE” and “ACTUAL,” as well as a blank for the child’s name.
  • Dixie cups to hold the Fruit Loops
  • Glue 

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Explain to the children that today they are going to estimate how many Fruit Loops it will take to fill their traced hands. Say: “First, you will guess/estimate how many Fruit Loops it will take to fill your hand, then you will actually glue the Fruit Loops onto a tracing of your hand and count them.”
  2. So the children can have a reasonable idea of what their estimates should be and they aren’t coming up with completely unrealistic numbers, model the activity first. Think out loud so that the children will be able to incorporate the vocabulary and procedures into their own activity. Say: “I am holding up my hand and wondering how many Fruit Loops it will take to fill my hand. First, I am going to trace my hand on my recording sheet. It has a place for my estimate and the actual number of Fruit Loops. I am going to estimate that it will require 40 Fruit Loops to fill my hand. Do you think that is a reasonable estimate? I am guessing 40 Fruit Loops because that seems about right to me when I think of the size of my hand and the size of the Fruit Loops. Now I will write the number 40 in the blank next to the word, ‘Estimate.’” Then say: “Let’s see if I was accurate.” Pour some Fruit Loops into a small cup. Begin gluing the Fruit Loops into the tracing of your hand. Have the children glue the Fruit Loops onto the hand tracing; otherwise the cereal pieces tend to move and it is difficult to get an accurate count. After gluing all of the Fruit Loops, say: “I am finished and it actually took 57 Fruit Loops to fill my hand. I will write the number 57 in the blank next to the word ‘Actual.'”  Then ask the children: “Is 57 more or less than my original estimate of 40?”

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Give each child a recording sheet and a cup full of Fruit Loops.
  2. Circulate around to make sure the children write down their estimates before starting to count out and glue down their Fruit Loops. They might also need help tracing their own hands.
  3. Once the children are done and the Fruit Loops are securely glued, ask the children if their actual amounts were more or less than their original estimates. Make a list of children who estimated high and those who estimated low.

Additional Extensions

  • Ask the children to compare their hand sizes with statements such as “My hand is bigger. It took 45 Fruit Loops to fill my hand” or “My hand is smaller. It took 34 Fruit Loops it fill my hand.” Make a chart from biggest to smallest or smallest to biggest. Or, if you are creating a bulletin board with the finished recording sheets, put the sheets in ascending or descending order. It makes for a cute bulletin board!

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Estimate: To form an approximate judgment or opinion regarding the amount, worth, size, weight, etc., of; to calculate approximately (e.g.,“Estimate how many Fruit Loops it will take to fill your hand.”)
  • Actual: Existing in fact; typically as contrasted with what was intended, expected or believed (e.g.,”The estimate was much less than the actual number of Fruit Loops.”)
  • How many: The total or sum (e.g.,“How many Fruit Loops does it take to fill your hand?”)
  • More: A value that is higher or greater in number (e.g.,“Is the actual number of Fruit Loops more than your estimate?”)
  • Less: A value that is smaller in number (e.g.,“Is the actual number of Fruit Loops less than your estimate?”)

Early Math Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Have difficulty grasping the idea of estimation
Child care providers may:
  • Provide a simplified version of the recording sheet that directs the children to skip the estimating step and simply count the number of Fruit Loops it would take to fill their hands. The recording sheet should only have a space for the amount of Fruit Loops used.
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Have estimates and actual numbers that are in close range; reasonable estimates are being made
Child care providers may:
  • Ask the children to trace their feet, estimate how many Fruit Loops it will take to fill the foot tracings and then count out the cereal and glue it to the foot tracings to find out the actual number of Fruit Loops needed to fill the tracings
  • Ask the children to measure items around the classroom by using the same process used to measure their hands and feet

Suggested Books

  • How Many Seeds In A Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara & G. Brian Karas (New York: Swartz & Wade, 2007)
  • Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy  (New York:  Square Fish, 2000)
  • Great Estimations by Bruce Gladstone  (New York: Squarefish, 2010)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • Ask the children to use the Using the Fruit Loops to estimate and then measure objects outside. Make sure the objects aren’t too big. Leaves, the surface of a small table or any smaller two-dimensional object will do.

Web Resources

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