Thursday, January 3, 2013

STEM Friday: Great Estimations

Great Estimations
written by Bruce Goldstone
2006 (Henry Holt)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Check out STEM Friday for more math and science links

This book will show you how to train your eyes and your mind to make really great estimations. 

The statement above appears on the inside jacket of Great Estimations. After reading this book, I can tell you that it makes good on its claim. Bruce Goldstone wins me over immediately when he starts with looking at groups of tens. Readers practice estimating by looking at a collage of items that are grouped into tens. Starting small and building up is the approach to improving estimation skills. Next, readers work on groups of one hundred. Gummy bears and pompoms are part of this collage. Throughout the book, you will find a hints box that provides pointers for estimating. The goal of the beginning is to train your eyes so you will come up with a reasonable estimate. After seeing groups of ten, one hundred, and one thousand, it is time to start making estimates. On the left side of the spread, you train by seeing two groups of an item such as 100 and 1,000 cereal O's. Then, on the right side of the spread you see an uncounted amount and you make an estimate. Later, you will have single page estimates to make, but don't fret because the hints box will guide you towards a reasonable estimate.

My favorite math books always contain elements of fun and this book is no different. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to come up with a good estimate. These exercises are great models for how to present this subject to students. It would be a fun exercise to read Great Estimations and then have students glue a number of small items on a 12 x 18 piece of construction paper. They could write a hints box to help their classmates make an estimate. Plus, how cool would it be to have this title in the hallway as you display the estimations of your students. Great Estimations is not Dickensian, but instead an epic math book.


  1. I love the title! And estimating stuff is really important. Like: how many jellybeans in that jar? Or how many m&m's in a quarter cup?

    1. There are over 2,000 jellybeans in that jar. Thanks for stopping by, Sue!