No-prep is the best way to go with a Halloween math activity for preschoolers! With this estimation activity, your little one will have a blast figuring out how many candy pumpkins are in each bag. And when they’re done counting, you can take it even further by asking them to order the numbers, too.
This easy math Halloween activity can be tweaked and used with any holiday, and includes a set of free number formation cards too.
Estimation is a math skill that gets forgotten in early education. Sometimes we underestimate how capable our preschoolers really are, but estimation skills fall within the Data and Analysis strand of mathematics – it shouldn’t be forgotten at an early age!
This is a super easy Halloween estimation activity. It’s best for small groups or circle time.
FAQ About Teaching Estimation Skills in Preschool
It is important to understand the term estimation, which can be confusing in some contexts. An estimate falls somewhere between a guess and certainty; it’s not just an arbitrary number someone throws out there willy-nilly. Estimation is the process of evaluating a quantity when the situation calls for a tentative or “rough” number.
The process of estimating builds number sense skills by helping preschoolers recognize relationships among numbers.
Estimating can be a frustrating process for kids, but it’s important to teach them how. Here are a few tips for teaching estimation to preschoolers.
~ Teach the concept of “-ish” or “about”
~ Use a number line to show nearby numbers
~ Practice estimation in fun ways, like using snacks and candies
~ Develop number sense skills
~ Encourage guessing when appropriate (remember, estimation means no counting!)
Learning how to estimate helps preschoolers develop stronger number sense skills by teaching them about numeral relationships. For example, learning how to estimate lets preschoolers know what numbers are bigger than other numbers and to understand the size difference between them.
Teaching estimation to preschoolers is like so fun! There’s nothing like seeing the look of surprise on their faces.
Through simple and playful activities, we’re helping them develop a keen sense of measurement and comparison. Whether it’s guessing how many colorful blocks fit in a container or estimating the number of marbles in a jar, these activities are like little math adventures.
Here are some benefits to teaching estimation to preschoolers:
- Critical Thinking
- Engaging in estimation activities nurtures their ability to make informed guesses and predictions based on visual cues.
- Practical Application
- Estimation is a real-world skill used in daily tasks like measuring ingredients for recipes or assessing quantities while playing.
- Number Sense
- Estimation hones their understanding of numbers and quantities, fostering a deeper grasp of numerical relationships.
- Spatial Awareness
- Estimation activities encourage spatial thinking as preschoolers evaluate sizes and proportions in relation to objects.
- Estimating fosters problem-solving skills, as children explore different approaches to approximating quantities.
In addition to all of the above, estimation fosters cognitive growth by encouraging the development of skills like observation, comparison, and reasoning. Through estimating, children actively engage their cognitive processes, refining their ability to analyze and make educated guesses based on visual cues.
How to Teach Estimation
This is my go-to book about how to teach math in preschool. It has a huge section on how to teach estimation to preschoolers, including loads of hands-on estimation activities!
Here’s a description of the book:
Children who learn math fundamentals in preschool and kindergarten have the best chance of later achievement in school—but too often, children don’t get the effective early math instruction that makes all the difference. Now there’s a core early childhood textbook that helps current and future educators teach the most critical math concepts to young students while meeting today’s national standards for mathematics education.
Halloween Estimation Activities
This Halloween math activity is so easy to prep and really fun for the children. Plus, you can also integrate a number of other math skills, making it a math activity for Halloween you can’t leave out!
Don’t celebrate Halloween in your preschool classroom? No worries! This preschool estimation activity can just as easily be added to the hands-on activities in your fall preschool theme.
- Halloween party favor bags (non see-through)
- Halloween candies
- Number cards
The number cards I used for this activity came from my Preschool Math Curriculum, but I’m giving you a set of free number formation cards at the end of this post that you can also use.
Place the Halloween candies in the bags before starting, ranging from one to five candies in each bag. I used Hershey kisses so all the candies were the same; using different kinds of candy in each bag will definitely make the activity more challenging.
You’ll want wrapped trick-or-treating candy, not something exposed like candy corn since lots of little hands will be touching the same candies.
Mix up the bags and set them out on a table, along with the number cards.
How to Teach Estimation to Preschoolers
Explain to your preschoolers that you’ve placed some candies in each bag, but you don’t remember how many candies went into each bag. Their job is going to be figuring out how many candies are in each bag without looking.
Invite a preschooler to choose a bag and place his hand inside. He will feel around for the candies and handle them inside the bag. (See why we want wrapped candies?) He may not look into the bag and he may not take the candies out.
Once your preschooler thinks he’s figured out how many candies are in the bag, have him place it off to the side with the corresponding number card.
Repeat this with all the bags.
Invite your preschoolers to arrange the bags in order from smallest to largest, like this:
Halloween Activity Pack$5.00
Now it’s time for the preschoolers to check their work! One bag at a time, take out the candies and line them up under the number card.
There are going to be some mistakes, but don’t correct them yet! That’s another part of the activity coming up.
It’s completely fine that the number cards didn’t match. In fact, this extends the Halloween math activity in a really great way. Now the preschoolers get to work together to fix their estimation mistakes.
It’s really easy to step in too early in math lessons and just start telling them how their answers are wrong. But this is an estimation activity for preschoolers. Their answers are not wrong! In fact, letting preschoolers make their own assumptions about the numbers and quantities allows students to practice their number sense skills to the fullest.
This is a really good time for you–the teacher or parent–to talk a little bit about how estimation works. It’s not about getting the number exactly right; it’s about getting close to the number.
A really good comparison for this concept is to use a small handful of candies as an example. Preschoolers are still developing their number sense skills and haven’t mastered number relationships, but if you hold three candies in your hand and say you think there are 100, they’ll know that isn’t accurate.
Halloween Math Activities for Preschoolers
Estimation is just one skill to teach in preschool math. Here are some other really fun preschool Halloween math activities!
- Pumpkin Math Sensory Bin
- Halloween Math Worksheets
- Ghosts and Ghouls Counting Game
- Ten Timid Ghosts Math Activities
- Pumpkin Counting Cards
Get Your Free Number Formation Cards Here
These number cards are not exactly like those in the picture, but you’ll like them just as much. You can use the cards for other fun Halloween counting activities or any other Halloween themed math activities, or even addition and subtraction activities. And since the number cards are not thematic, you can use them for any themed math activity, and of course in your math games, too!
Get Printable Halloween Preschool Activities
Looking for something educational to keep the kiddies busy learning for the upcoming Halloween holiday? This Halloween Activity Pack includes six super fun activities and multiple variations of each!
Whether you’re looking for something to supplement your preschool or homeschooling curriculum, or looking for something to keep the children busy while you sew up (or purchase) Halloween costumes, this activity pack will not disappoint!
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.