Spooky Halloween Jars

What You Need:

  • Glass jars (2–5) of varying sizes if possible
  • Halloween candy or toys (e.g., toy eyeballs or skulls, spiders, gummy worms, etc.) 
  • Estimation Slips worksheet (you can also write estimations on a blank piece of paper)


What You Do:

  1. Set up the spooky Halloween jars by getting out the glass jars and filling them with various amounts of Halloween candy or toys. 
  2. Make this activity more or less challenging depending on the glass jars you use. For example, if you choose jars that are different sizes, your child will have to think about the capacity of each jar and the size of the items in the jar to estimate the total amount. 
  3. Explain to your child that they will try to figure out how many pieces of candy or how many toys they see by estimating. Define what it means to estimate in child-friendly language by telling your child that to estimate means to make an educated guess based on what you know. 
  4. Provide some examples of times when you have needed to estimate in the past (e.g., estimating how many toy bags to make for a birthday party, or estimating how many peaches you picked at the farm).
  5. Explain to your child that estimation is a valuable tool when shopping, cooking, thinking about how much time something will take, and trying to figure out distance.
  6. Give your child one of the Estimation Slips (or a blank piece of paper) and allow them time to come up with an estimate. Encourage them to explain their thinking, using prompting questions, such as:
    • How did you come up with your estimate?
    • Why did you come up with your estimate?
    • What types of mental math strategies did you use to come up with your estimate? For example, counting by twos, grouping in tens, etc.
    • Which of these jars do you think holds the most candy/toys? Why?
  7. Include all of your family members in the fun by having everyone jot down an estimate.
  8. Keep the Halloween jars up throughout the season, and when the time feels right, dump out the toys and candy and have your child help you count.
  9. Review the estimates and announce the family member who had the closest guess!
  10. If your family enjoys having a winner, choose a special prize for the family member with the closest guess (e.g., watching a favorite movie or playing a favorite game). 

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