Estimating with Halloween Goodies

Halloween can be a fun time of year, filled with pretend play, decorating, and an over-abundance of candy.  Why not put the candy to use, with a little learning exploration?  Here’s a fun Halloween math activity that you do can do with just a bag (or two) of candy and a few glass jars.

Halloween Math: Estimating with Halloween Goodies


Halloween Math Activity

Materials needed:

  • different types of candies or other related goodies
  • 4 glass Mason jars
  • 4 small jars or containers

The set up:

Start by putting different candies or goodies into each jar.  I choose chocolate eyes and pumpkin candies, Halloween sweet tarts, and a bag of spider rings from the dollar store.

Count out a designated amount of items and place them into the small containers.  I would recommend starting with containers that have the same width as the bottom of the Mason jars, so the kids can easily estimate using the height of the container (or height of the items).

Halloween Math: Estimating with Halloween Goodies

How to teach estimating:

To begin, state how many items are in the small container.  Try to keep it simple, by starting with simple multiples that they can count by.  (We started with groups of  10 items.)  Point out the height of the items in the small container.  Then speculate “how high” the large jar is in comparison to the height you measured in the small container. 

When we did this activity, I actually measured the height of the small container using my fingers.  Mimicking me, my son did the same.  He could then easily count the height of the mason jar, and then count by 10’s to get to the approximate answer.

Halloween Math: Estimating with Halloween Goodies

For example, I started by telling my son that there were 10 pumpkins in the small container.  I pointed out how tall the container was with 10 pumpkins, and then showed him that I could estimate that 3 and a half more containers stacked up would equal the height of the large Mason jar. So, that would mean 10+10+10+5=35 would be how many were in the Mason jar.

After we made our predictions on the numbers in the jar, we then poured them out and counted them together.  Amazingly, our predictions were almost exactly the number in the jar!

If this version of the Halloween math activity seems to be a little easy, then try a different approach — use 25 items rather than 10 in the small container.  Or change up your containers so that they have a different width compared to the Mason jars.  We also tried this, and it was equally as fun to try to guess the number, by trying to estimate how many might be inside.  Another idea, which also builds “number sense,” is to make the questions multiple choice…. “Here’s 10 items.  Do you think there are 50, 100, or 500 inside the jar?”

Halloween Math: Estimating with Halloween Goodies

This was such a fun activity!  What other fun ways have you used Halloween goodies to make them educational?


  1. That is an awesome way to bring math into Halloween and make it fun!