Creating Estimation Station Questions

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 11, 2016  in: creating, Engagement, measure

What happens when kids create their own Estimation Station questions?  They learn how to ask good questions, to measure, and to present their questions and answers in pictures.  And… while they work on math, they enjoy every minute of it.

All year long the fourth graders have been estimating everything from times of songs, distances and lengths, the value of money, and the number of cheese balls using Andrew Stadel’s Estimation 180 site.  Every Wednesday, they enter the classroom to a question on the board that might look like this:


My students LOVE these estimation activities.  The engagement level is outstanding as they work to answer the question from Estimation 180.  The extensions I’ve added include the kids calculating how close their estimate was and then by what percent they missed it.  The best part of this whole routine is that the students lead this discussion.

This learning activity that we call Estimation Station teaches students to think about what makes sense in math.  They learn different measurements and conversions.  These estimation questions encourage real thinking and discussion, as students defend their estimations and calculate their percentages.  After this continued exposure to percentages, when we get to the “percents unit” they already have a very secure understanding.

The logical next step?  The kids created their own estimation questions about the playground at our school.  How tall is the slide?  What is the circumference of the climbing circle?  What is the distance between the two playgrounds?

Then we all went out to the playground, clutching iPads, and took pictures for the questions and for the answers.  They worked in teams to bring those pictures to life, assisting each other in measuring and taking pictures.  The following day they used Google Slides to show their questions and answers.

Of course the next step was to present the slides to the class to see if they worked!  Each student led the discussion when his/her question came up.  The smiles said it all as they watched their classmates solve the questions each had created.  A few kids realized that they had a few things to fix on their slides and went off to work to do that.

Later this week, we’ll present these estimation questions to the third graders.  What could be better than to create engaging questions for an authentic audience?


A sample estimation problem from our playground


This question gives the audience the perspective of a 4th grader’s arm to show the length.


Leave a comment