Estimation: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

Estimation is a useful tool for finding approximate answers to math equations. In this lesson, you will learn the rules for estimation and practice estimating money.

What Is Estimation?

Sarah is at the mall. She has $25.00 to buy Christmas presents for her family. She needs to add together the prices of the items she chooses to make sure she has enough money, but she doesn't want to take the time to add all the cents. So, Sarah decides to estimate the prices of the items.

Estimation is finding the approximate value of a sum, difference, product, or quotient. Estimating makes the numbers easier to add, subtract, multiply, or divide, especially when doing math in your head. An estimated answer is not exact.

How to Estimate

Step 1: Choose the Place Value

Look at the numbers in your equation. You can choose to round them to any place value. The number you choose to round will either go up or stay the same, and the numbers to the right of that place will become zeroes. You could choose to round to the tens place so that you can count by tens. You could also round to the hundreds place if you are dealing with larger numbers.

Remember, as you round to higher place values, your numbers become less precise. Since Sarah is estimating money and wants to avoid cents, she will round to the ones place.

Step 2: Look to the Right and Round

Once you choose the number you are rounding, you will need to look to the digit to the right to determine which way you will round to.

  • If the number to the right is four or below (4, 3, 2, 1, 0), your number stays the same.
  • If the number to the right is five or above (5, 6, 7, 8, 9), your number goes up by one.

Step 3: Find the Estimated Answer

Once you have rounded the individual numbers in the equation, you can perform the addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. This will give you your estimation.

Practice Estimating: Sarah's Trip to the Mall

We can practice estimating using Sarah's trip to the mall.


Sarah finds a scarf for her mom. The scarf costs $5.75. Sarah wants to round the price to the nearest dollar, so she needs to round to the ones place.

  • The number in the ones place is 5.
  • The number to the right of the ones place is 7. Since 7 is five or above, the number in the ones place must go up.
  • The 5 becomes a 6, and every number after it becomes a 0.
  • The rounded price is $6.00.

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