Holiday Jars Full of Cheer

What You Need:

  • Glass jar with airtight lid
  • Red ribbon or yarn
  • Buttons
  • Hot glue and hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Marshmallows, or other sweet treat
  • Estimation Slips

What You Do: 

  1. Set the glass jar on the table with the airtight lid to the side. Put the rest of the supplies on the table so they are easily accessible.
  2. Have your child fill up the glass jar with the marshmallows, or another sweet treat, without counting each piece. 
  3. Help your child put the airtight lid on the glass jar, and wrap the red ribbon, or yarn, around the lid. Cut the ribbon so there is enough room to tie a knot and make a scarf. 
  4. Ask your child to pick two buttons. Use the hot glue gun to put glue onto the jar and press the buttons on the glue. 
  5. Explain to your child that they will try to figure out how many marshmallows, or pieces of another treat, are in the jar by estimating. Define what it means to estimate in child-friendly language (estimating is making a guess based on information you have about the size or amount of something).
  6. Share times that you have used estimation in the past to help you when shopping, cooking, thinking about how much time something will take, or trying to figure out the measurement of something.
  7. Give your child one of the Estimation Slips (or a blank piece of paper) and allow them to look at the jar closely to help them come up with their estimate. Encourage them to explain their thinking. Ask them questions, such as:
    • How did you come up with your estimate?
    • What types of mental math strategies did you use as you came up with your estimate? 
    •  How would your estimate change if we used big marshmallows instead of the small marshmallows?
  8. Invite others to complete an Estimation Slip to see who made the closest estimate.
  9. When the time feels right, dump out the treats and have your child help you count the total number. Review the estimates and announce who had the closest guess!
  10. Keep the holiday jar up through the season, or change the contents and repeat this process of estimating using the Estimation Slips.

If your family enjoys having a winner, choose a special prize for the family member with the closest estimate. They could choose a fun game or holiday activity, or choose the sweet treat for the next holiday jar!

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