skip to Main Content
+27 (0) 87 805 9711
MCSA Lockdown Tip 27

MCSA Lockdown Tip 27

Lockdown Day 27 – NUM – Estimate and Count

Numeracy and Arithmetic

Happy Earth Day!

Although we are focussing on Numeracy and Arithmetic today, take some time to talk to your children (and families) about the Earth, our home. This year’s focus is on climate change. Have you noticed how nature is quickly regenerating whilst humans are in lockdown? With fewer planes in the sky, fewer cars on the road, and fewer humans using non-sustainable resources, the pandemic has given the Earth a chance to ‘breathe’ again. Perhaps take a moment today to reflect on our gratitudes for what the Earth gives and pledge to be a better human being when we all go ‘back to normal’ again.


Today, let’s focus on building some more foundations for numeracy. Many children can rote count from 1 to 10, 20, 50 or even to 100. Parents are generally quite proud of their children’s achievements in this regard. However – just because a child can remember these words, it does not mean that s/he has understood what these words mean, and how they fit together!

So – start simple.


  • Collect ten of the same object. This could be natural objects from the garden (pebbles, leaves etc) or pantry items (beans, popcorn kernels, pasta). We will use pebbles as an example here.
  • Start by laying the pebbles out in a straight line, counting each one as you place it down. If the child can already do this, extend the challenge by asking the child to now take the pebbles back by counting down from 10 to 1.
  • Once you have established that there are 10 pebbles, play a game of estimation.



Estimation is a crucial higher-level thinking skill that requires the conceptualisation and mental manipulation of numbers. We use estimation in our everyday living experiences – when shopping, we estimate the cost of our purchases to ensure we stay within budget, when eating out in a group of friends, we estimate each person’s contribution to the bill.

Estimation skills are required in formal schooling so that children can determine the reasonableness of the answer. They need to be able to determine whether their answer is within a reasonable range. For example, when being asked to add 87 and 98, one could estimate that the answer will be in the region of 190 (90 + 100). In this way, estimation also allows children to use mental maths to more quickly arrive at a reasonable solution.

  • The child knows that there are 10 pebbles in your game.
  • Take a handful of these pebbles and move them aside in a heap. Ask the child to estimate (no counting!) how many pebbles you have moved aside. Once the child has given an answer, invite the child to count the pebbles to determine the accuracy of the estimation.
  • Now ask the child to estimate how many pebbles were left in the original pile, and repeat the above.
  • Keep going until the child loses interest. This can later be extended to more objects, depending on how many objects the child is capable of counting.


Incidental learning opportunities:

  • Counting forwards is addition by 1.
  • Counting backwards is subtracting by 1.
  • Conservation of number is being explored in the estimation game. The amounts in each pile will always add up to 10!