Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Words, Words, Words

Denise Simonson
Bay District Schools


Students choose estimation strategies in real-world problem situations and explain the choice.


The student selects the appropriate operation to solve specific problems involving addition, subtraction, and multiplication of whole numbers, decimals, and fractions, and division of whole numbers.

The student uses and justifies different estimation strategies in a real-world problem situation and determines the reasonableness of results of calculations in a given problem situation.


-Notebook paper
-Books with full pages of text (Reading, Science, or Social Studies books work great)
-Math Journals
-Access to online student lessons Just About and/or Round About (See Weblinks)


1. Make sure you have counted the words on the pre-determined page for the beginning of the lesson.

2. Check the Internet stations to verify connectivity to the online student lessons.


1. Begin this lesson by having the students recall the difference between estimate and exact. (This information is covered in the online lesson plan Examining Estimation available at the Beacon Learning Center. Review the rounding and estimating words: almost, close to, and just about. Tell the students that today they will be working in groups of five using three different estimation methods to find out how many words are on a page of text. Each group should have a pencil and a piece of notebook paper.

2. Have each student open a textbook to a pre-determined page and ask them how they would estimate the number of words on that page. Tell them to pretend that you have assigned a book report. The criterion for the report is at least 200 words but not more than 250. They need to come up with a good way to estimate the words so they don't have to count each word. After a brief discussion, introduce the following three ways that could possibly be used to estimate:

Method 1 - Count the number of words in one sentence and then multiply that number by the number of sentences on the page.

Method 2 - Count the number of words in one line and then multiply that number by the number of lines on the page.

Method 3 - Find the number of words in three lines and then divide by three to find out the average number of words in these lines. Then multiply this by the number of lines on the page.

3. After discussing each method, have the groups work together to estimate the number of words on the pre-determined page by using each method above. The groups should record their answers on the notebook paper noting an answer for each method. (The teacher should have already counted the exact number of words on the page).

4. After the groups have tried all three methods, give the exact number of words so they can determine which method gave them the most accurate answer.

5. Now, each group of students will choose two other pages of text and implement the three methods. Students should be challenged to determine whether any one method consistently proves effective. This information should be recorded in their Math Journals. (Calculations/estimation methods will be recorded in the journal as well as their effective methods. Students will count the words on each page--after performing the methods--in order to determine which estimation strategy brought them the closest.) As students are working, circulate and ask the groups to verbally explain the method they are using. While groups are busy with their estimations, rotate five students at a time to the computers for the student online lesson Round About. This lesson is more about rounding, but uses the terminology just about, close to, and almost. These terms also relate to estimation and will reinforce those concepts. (The online lesson Just About can also be used.)


1. Observe students' work during small group activity. Be prepared to clarify misunderstandings as they arise in the area of estimation strategies.
2. The Math Journal explanation about the estimation method they found most effective (see Step 5) should reflect their understanding of choosing and using estimation strategies in real-world problem situations.
3. The Math Journal should reflect the number sentences (multiplication/division) for the given situation.

Web Links

Web supplement for Words, Words, Words
Round About

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