K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

The students will be able to estimate and round off numbers to the nearest 10 and 100.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

30 minutes


  • Poster Paper cut into rectangles (one per student)
  • Permanent Markers
  • Tape
  • Play Ground Ball for throwing inside


Students should be familiar with the process for rounding and estimation. They should be able to count to 1000 by 10s and 100s.


Teacher will explain that the students will be playing a rounding game using the play ground ball.

  1. Students should be given a piece of rectangular shaped poster paper and a marker.
  2. Students should be assigned a number in increments of 10s or 100s and then write their assigned number on their card.
  3. Teacher will tear off a piece of tape for each student and the students will tape their card to their shirt so that the whole class can easily see their number.
  4. Students will stand up at this point in order to play the rounding ball game. Students should stand in a big circle around the room so that all students are able to see each other. (In order to make the game more controlled, certain rules of silent ball may implemented. The teacher will have to decide which, if any, rules to use.)

    Silent Ball Rules:

    • Students are to stand in a circle about arms length apart.
    • The only student allowed to talk should be the person answering the question in Rounding Ball. If a student talks out of turn, they are out of the game and should have a seat at their desk.
    • The ball is to be thrown from one student to the next without dropping the ball. If the student catching the ball drops it, that student is out of the game and must have a seat. If the ball is caught, the student who has it decides who to throw it to next. All students should be included.
    • The ball should not be thrown above the neck, below the belt, our out of catching range.
    • The teacher is the monitor paying attention to who has the ball, who is catching the ball, and who is out of the game.
  5. Teacher will then begin by throwing the ball to a student and calling out a number 1-1000 and telling the student to round to the nearest 10 or 100. The student with the ball will then think about the number, estimate or round to the nearest 10-100 and throw the ball to the classmate who is wearing the number that is the answer. If the answer is incorrect, the one who was asked the question must have a seat. If the answer is correct the teacher will continue by calling another number to the person who is now holding the ball. The cycle continues until all students have a chance to play. (If you have plenty of time, this game can go on and on until you get a winner. The winner may be rewarded.)


Teacher will observe how the students answer the rounding question by watching the ball being thrown to the correct number. A checklist with each students name on it is a quick and easy way to document those students who may or may not need extra practice. As the ball is being thrown by the student who is being asked the problem, the teacher puts a + if it is answered correctly or a - for incorrect answers. This allows the teacher to assess each students answers individually.

Teacher will be able to assess how quickly and effectively the students are using mental math to deliver what they know about counting to 1000 with 10’s and 100’s.

Supplemental information


I have found that students love playing this game because they really don’t feel like they are doing math. They feel like they are playing a game instead!! My kids want to play all the time. We have also found many other content areas to play ball with. Just about the same rules apply, only change the content. Have Fun!!

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 3

        • Number & Operations in Base Ten
          • 3.NO.1Use place value understanding to round whole numbers to the nearest 10 or 100.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will model, identify, and compute with whole numbers through 9,999.
    • Objective 1.01: Develop number sense for whole numbers through 9,999.
      • Connect model, number word, and number using a variety of representations.
      • Build understanding of place value (ones through thousands).
      • Compare and order.
    • Objective 1.06: Develop flexibility in solving problems by selecting strategies and using mental computation, estimation, calculators or computers, and paper and pencil.