How Many in a Minute?

Time 30 minutes
Age 5 & up
Group Size 4 or more
Tags Counting, Estimating, Individual

How good a predictor are you?

Math is a natural subject to fit into your everyday work with your students.  The Mixing in Math curriculum, created by TERC (click here to visit the website), contains lots of great math activities that require little or no materials, and are easy to fit into what you are already doing.  This activity, which is adapted from the Mixing in Math curriculum, helps children practice estimating and counting by 2’s, 5’s and other numbers.

How Many in a Minute?

Suggested Materials

  • Clock or watch with a second hand
  • Paper and pencil

Make it Matter

Opening Discussion

Ask your students if they have ever had to estimate how long something would take.  Were they close in their estimations?  What are some examples of times when it is helpful for us to be able to estimate the amount of time something might take?

The Challenge

Choose an activity, then estimate how many times you can do it in a minute!


Make it Happen

Doing the Activity

  1. Have kids get together in teams of two for this activity.
  2. Share the challenge with your students—tell them that you would like them to pick an activity (like jumping jacks or drawing stars on a piece of paper), and predict how many times they can do that activity in exactly one minute. Decide together as a group so that you all do the same activity. If you think it is more helpful for your students, you can select the activity for them.
  3. One child in each team should do the activity (ex., draw stars or do jumping jacks), while the other student records how many they do. The child doing the activity should make the estimation and their partner should write down this prediction.
  4. On the count of three, tell the students when their minute has started. After a minute, tell them to stop.
  5. Gather the teams together to share their results.

Make it Click

Let’s Talk About It

After the first trial, bring all of the students together to share their results.  How close were their predictions?  Were they surprised by the results?  Did they guess that they could do more or less of the activity than they were able to do?  Does one minute seem to pass by quickly or slowly?


Make it Better

Build On What They Talked About

Ask teams to try again, but for them to switch roles—the counter is now the doer and vice versa.  Have them make predictions, try the activity and record their results.  Bring the students together again.  Were the second students closer in their predictions?  What information did they use to help them make their estimations?


  • A simple and fun exercise to do is to estimate one minute: have everyone shut their eyes, and when you say “start”, you should begin timing one minute.  Each child should raise their hand when they think one minute is up.  Make a note of whose hands go up before one minute; whose at exactly (or close to) one minute; and whose go up after one minute.  Once all the hands are up, tell them the results.
  • For some more excellent math activities designed just for afterschool programs, visit
  • For a literacy extension, check out these books:
    • A Second Is a Hiccup: A Child’s Book of Time.  Hutchins, H. J. (Arthur A. Levine, 2007).
    • Ten Minutes Till Bedtime.  Rathmann, Peggy. (Putnam, 1998).
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