Geez, kid, how many tools are in that bag? (a lesson in estimating)

Checking our estimates

I’m not sure if I have mentioned before how much Br (3 3/4) loves tools.

A favorite story of my Father-In-Law’s is taking my oldest (Br) when he was about 2 1/2 with him to a paint store. Br noticed and properly identified a flat-head screwdriver.  The person was impressed, so my FIL bragged for her to bring over a phillips-head screwdriver, which BR also noticed & properly identified.  After exclaiming on what a bright child Br was, her colleague came over and asked my child “What’s your favorite animal?” To which Br replied “Yellow!”

Aww, children :)

So, my son is often carting around tools to “fix” things.  The other day I decided to grab a little math learning opportunity & introduce the concept of estimating.

Bag o' tools
Bag o' Tools (if you're wondering, he is also holding the "Hold-On Handle" attached to our stroller. I'm not sure why)

I asked Br “Do you want to play a little game with me?” (That is pretty much guaranteed to get his attention) When Br asked “What?”, I replied ” An Estimating Game!” I explained to Br estimating is making an “educated guess” of how many there are of something, using your observations about it.

I suggested he fold down his bag so we had a better idea of how full of tools it was.

Br folding the bag to see how full it is
Br folding the bag to see how full it is

Then we each took turns estimating how many tools were in the bag.  Br estimated “6” & I estimated “8”.  Then we opened up the bag to see how close our estimate was to the correct number.  Of course, we had some help, which made it more difficult to count:

Our helper
Our helper

If someone hadn’t kept needing to use the tools as we pulled them out, this would have also have been a nice opportunity to do some sorting and incremental counting.  As it was, I was lucky to get them lined up, counted, and snap a picture in between Bl wandering off with them…

Checking our estimates
Checking our estimates, before the "tool monster" borrows them. Man, I NEED to clean the carpets!

There were 10 tools.  We talked about how a lot of the tools (4/10) were screwdrivers, which are a “skinny tool”, and how that might have effected our estimates.

All in all, it was a pretty successful way to use an existing interest to introduce a new math concept!

If you are looking for some other great ideas to keep those little minds sharp this summer, you can check out some great links to ideas in the link-up for the Smart Summer Challenge

smart summer button '11

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