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Can YOU Guess the Number?

by Erica Anderson-Senter | Oct 28, 2016

 “He’s a BIG idea guy,” Jessica told me about her son Jackson, age 8, as the three of us sat between the stacks of books, talking about the contest he won. Throughout the final summer months a big ol’ tub of LEGOs sat on the Reference Desk in Children’s Services and I challenged kids: CAN YOU ESTIMATE HOW MANY LEGOS ARE IN THIS TUB? 455 people wrote down their approximatiojackson1n and hoped for the best. Jackson guessed 1,203. The correct number of LEGOs, you may be wondering, was 1,212. JACKSON WAS ONLY 9 AWAY. 

Jackson sat across from me, dapper and confident: spiky hair, permanent smile, and a suit jacket with a red and blue tie. To say the very least, I was instantly impressed with this young man. Talking with his hands, he explains to me what he likes to read (Captain Underpants and Comics), what he does for fun (plays LEGOs and with his friends outside), and how he made such a precise estimation. He counted horizontally and came up with a number in a “section” and then he counted up vertically how many sections the tub had and then multiplied. Jessica told me that they try to “use numbers organically” so it makes sense when Jackson said he basically just got a “rough idea” and tweaked the guess a tiny bit with his dad’s help. Told you he was impressive. 

Jackson, who visits both the Waynedale branch and the Main Library, not only plays with LEGOs “more than you want to know”, his favorite food is pineapple pizza with stuffed crust and ice cream to round out the meal. His favorite color is blue, and has been since he knew colors. Jessica also told me that Jackson is an encourager and a bit of an inventor. When I asked him what he wanted people to know about him, his response was perfect:

I’m a bit funny, love video games, and I always like to build.

The craft of estimation is an essential tool in trusting one’s instinct when it comes to reasonable answers for calculations AND, in real life, a powerful life skill. This all starts super early! Babies are already starting to formulate can I reach that rattle and the various sizes of different objects by 6 months old! This particular skill is critical in laying a foundation for a strong future in mathematical make-up. And good news! There are ways to stretch your child’s basic understanding of estimation. Follow these links to read MORE about this integral skill. Isn’t it exciting to know that YOU can help your young learner grow in huge and capable ways that will help your child forever?    

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