Estimation Jar: aligned with K-3

Estimation jar lessons are one of those activities that can be organized many different ways. Plus you can teach a variety of skills with a jar. Who knew a jar could be so useful in the classroom?

I found this jar at Target today for $3.68. It is a gallon size Ball Mason Jar. It almost Easter, so I bought some plastic eggs and egg-shaped gum balls. They are colorful and add seasonal fun to any lesson.

If you want to add measurement to the lesson, bring in other sized jars such as pint and quart size jars. One day put the same number of gum balls in each of the jars. Of course, the smaller jar will look fuller. Will students estimate a larger number if the jar looks fuller?

An estimation jar lesson is a one that can be taught a variety of ways. These are more Common Core standards that can be used with this activity. I included a few of the ways that I’ve used with my classes in the packet.

You can incorporate different standards using an estimation jar. I have used the following standards when I had an estimation jar:


K.CC.1. Count to 100 by ones and by tens.

1st Grade
1.NBT.1. Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral.

2nd Grade
2.OA.3. Determine whether a group of objects (up to 20) has an odd or even number of
members, e.g., by pairing objects or counting them by 2s; write an equation to express an even number as a sum of two equal addends.
2.OA.4. Use addition to find the total number of objects arranged in rectangular arrays
with up to 5 rows and up to 5 columns; write an equation to express the total as a sum of
equal addends.

3rd Grade
For this C.C. Standard, students will collect data each day about the total amount of
objects in the estimation jar. On Friday, they will complete the graph and answer the
“how many more” and “how many less” questions.
3.MD.3. Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step “how many more” and “how many less”
problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. For example, draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.