Measuring is a practical skill that kids use all the time. They help measure volume when pouring ingredients to bake a cake. They measure quantity when checking who got more of that delicious snack Mom brought out. They measure when comparing height to see who made the tallest tower. Kids are measuring all the time, but to delve a bit deeper into understanding measuring I created this activity that gets them moving, learning, and thinking in new ways. Measuring is in and of itself, a hands-on concept.
Why don't we use a standard ruler to measure with kids?
When introducing measurement with child, they usually have no understanding of centimetres and inches. The concept of standardized units is very abstract. That's why in preschool and kindergarten we introduce units of measurement that kids can really wrap their minds around. Usually those are regular household objects and toys. The must-do for measuring is that kids must use one specific object, so it's length stays consistent all the way through. Once kids understand that they must measure with a unit that is consistently the same size, you can begin to introduce inches and other standardized measurement tools.
How to introduce measuring during "Measuring Me" Activity:
To play "Measuring Me," you'll need blue tape and access to items around the home that are (mostly) uniform in length. Some ideas are shoes, blocks, markers, crayons, envelopes, etc. If you need some blue tape, click the pic to grab some. We use this for projects and activities on the daily and may receive a commission if you purchase through this link.
Your first step will be to have your child lie down on the floor and make a tape line that matches their height. Have them get up and examine the line. Was it longer or shorter than they expected?
Explain that this line represents their height and you'll be investigating how tall they are in different materials around the house. We tried shoes first, and I made sure to explain that we will only use adult shoes to make sure all the shoes are the same length, or we wouldn't get an accurate measurement.
I demonstrated how to start at one end of the tape and lined the items up toe to heel/end to end. Once we reached the end, we counted how tall Big Sis was in shoes!
Next we picked another object: markers. Before starting measuring with markers, I asked Big Sis to make a prediction. How many markers tall does she think she is? Will it be more or less than the shoes?
Again I reinforced as she lined up the items that she had to start at one end of the tape and line each item end to end to get an accurate measurement.
We went through a few different materials, making predictions along the way and comparing how many units tall Big Sis was with Lil Sis.
Big Concepts for Measuring Me:
One big take away for this activity is that when measuring you must start lining items up at one end of the tape and continue till the end. The second big take away is to get an accurate measurement you must use items that are one size.
This is a tricky concept at first but if you were to explain to another person that you were 14 markers and buttons long, they would have no idea what you mean? If you said you were 17 markers long though, they might have a clearer picture. As kids grasp measuring more and more, we introduce inches and feet or centimetres and meters.
Preschoolers and kindergartners are building their understanding of math concepts through this hands-on activity. You'll be touching on so many concepts. Besides measuring with nonstandard units, you'll also be making predictions, counting, comparing more and less, and of course, keeping your little ones engaged in hands-on learning.