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Guess It!

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Note for parents and teachers: Though this game helps children practice estimation, it does not teach strategies for estimation. Before having your child or student play this game, you should discuss estimation strategies with them. Read the section titled "Estimation and Children" for an estimation strategy children can use.

Guess It! is a game which will help children develop their ability to make approximations and estimates. In this game, Professor Puzzler will show the child a group of objects scattered randomly on the screen. The child will have a few seconds to look at the objects; there will not be enough time for the child to actually count the objects.

After a few seconds, Professor Puzzler will remove the objects, and then give the child a multiple choice answer selection. The child must click on the answer which best approximates what the child has seen on the screen.

For some questions, Professor Puzzler will scatter two or more types of objects on the screen (for example: red dots and blue dots) and ask the child to tell whether there is more of one kind or the other.

The child will also encounter objects of different sizes, which will add a bit of extra challenge to the question, since objects which are larger take up more area on the screen, even if there aren't as many of them.

Estimation and Children

For some children, estimation is a difficult concept. Children want to be right, and if there are 18 objects, saying there's "about 20" is not good enough.

Of course, in mathematics we encourage children to calculate the correct answer, but being able to estimate is a valuable skill. First, because it shows that you have a good sense of numbers and how big they are. Secondly, because children who have that number sense will be able to use that skill to determine whether their answers to math questions are reasonable.

If you want to give your child or student an estimation strategy, here is one exercise you can do with the child: Take a sheet of paper and draw about thirty randomly placed dots on it. Now give a pencil to your child and say: "Draw a circle around ten dots." After your child has counted ten and circled them, say "Now look at how many dots that is. Do you think you could draw a circle around about ten dots, without actually counting them?" Your child may try counting--this is normal! If they try to count, just say, "Oh, I see you're counting. You know about how many ten is--you don't have to be exact, so next time don't count, just make a guess as close as you can without counting." After doing this a few times, your goal is for your child to get better at dividing objects into groups of ten. Once they can mentally divide objects into groups, show them that if there are three groups, that means there about thirty objects in all.

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