Ready-To-Use Teaching Ideas: Math
- Tape measure
- A variety of blocks
- Craft sticks
- Plastic storage containers
Children measure objects in their environment with standard and nonstandard tools.
Gather several types of standard measuring tools such as rulers, tape measures, and yardsticks. Also find several nonstandard measuring materials-wooden blocks, yarn strips, plastic links, and so on-and put them in separate containers.
1. During meeting time, show children the measuring materials in their containers. Ask: "How can you use these materials to measure things? What can you measure with blocks? What can you measure with strands of yarn or strips of fabric?" While you're introducing the activity, demonstrate measuring terms such as height, width, and depth.
2. Encourage children to find objects that they can measure with the nonstandard tools. Ask them to measure one specific object using different measuring tools. How many markers long is the bookshelf, the doll in the dramatic-play area, or the distance between the door and the snack table?
3. Now ask them to measure each other, their own hands, one another's feet, and so on. Make a chart showing what the children measured, the measuring tool, and the measurement of various body parts.
4. Next, show children the standard measuring tools and ask them to describe what they see. Point out that the numbers are spaced by inches. Hold a ruler against a book or toy and have the children count out the number of inches as you measure the object. Make a column for each tool on chart paper and record what they've measured and how long it is. Hold the ruler against a child's foot. Ask: "Why do you need to have your feet measured?"
Remember: You may wish to photograph the process of this activity as you do it over several days to document the stages of learning and experimentation. Make books or posters with the pictures and share these with parents to give them a peek at the way their children learn.
Family Involvement: Give children a piece of brown craft paper to take home so that they can measure their family members' feet and hands by outlining them on the paper. Display their work in the classroom or hall.
How Many Feet? How Many Tails?: A Book of Math Riddles by Marilyn Burns (Scholastic Inc. )
Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni (Mulberry Books)
Length (Math Counts) by Henry Pluckrose (Children's Press)
This activitiy originally appeared in the October, 1999 issue of Early Childhood Today.