SKILLS: Children will use their bodies for measuring and comparing sizes.
- chart paper and markers or pencils (optional for older children)
IN ADVANCE: Open a discussion about the different ways children have grown this year. If you took measurements at the beginning of the year, compare them with the children's current measurements. Encourage children to bring in old clothes that are too small and compare them with their present sizes.
1 On a sunny day, take the children outdoors and open a discussion about growth. Ask children to think about what else grows like they do, and to look for signs of growth on plants and trees. Point out the light areas of bright green at the ends of branches and plants as signs of new growth.
2 Ask children to look for the plant that has the most new growth on it. Suggest that from time to time they use pieces of yarn to measure how much the plant has grown.
3 Invite children to separate into pairs. Encourage one child to lie down in a clean area, and ask his partner to measure his length with a long piece of yarn. When the partner has measured out the length, help him cut the yarn. Then ask children to trade places.
4 Next, invite pairs to search the playground together as "measuring teams," using their pieces of yarn to measure the size of other objects. Can they find something on the playground that is bigger than they are? Smaller? The same size? Then, ask partners to show the group the different-sized objects they found.
For younger children: Invite children to bring items to school that they may have used as babies (rattles, cups, bowls, clothing, toys). Encourage children to discuss how they used these different items and how they have outgrown them.
For older children: Using a large sheet of chart paper, work with children to chart the growth of the plants they see outdoors from week to week. At the top of the chart, draw pictures of the plants being measured. section the chart into vertical columns, listing weeks one, two, three, and four at the top of the chart. Periodically, help children measure and record the plants' growth on the chart.
Help each child trace a foot on a sheet of construction paper and cut out the tracing. Then suggest that children use the cutouts to measure objects in the room. Which objects are two feet long? Can they build something that is about a foot high?
Clifford the Small Red Puppy by Norman Bidwell (Scholastic, 1985; $4)
It's Hard to Be Five by Jamie Lee Curtis (Joanna Cotler Books, 2004; $17)
Trust Me, Mom! by Angela McAllister (Bloomsbury, 2005; $17)