Exploring different types of measurements is a fun way to engage young learners. It is especially fun for toddlers to start understanding the world around them and the differences between objects, but it’s also an important life tooll and can grow with a child’s learning. This means preschoolers can get a little more precise in their measurements and grade schoolers can become more mathematical about it and so on. In general, a great and fun theme to incorporate into your schedule!
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Toys, Supplies, and Books to explore measurements
In the real world, we don’s always have the tools we need, but we can be creative to come up with a way to convey that information. We have measured rooms by how many shoe-lengths wide it is and the same can be done when teaching kids to measure. Anything can be a tool of measurement. Kids can get out their building blocks and see that the couch is 20 block tall or that the same couch is two stuffed animals tall! It’s all about being creative and understanding what exactly measurement is and what it can be.
Get in the kitchen and find measuring cups and spoons, different size pots and pans, timers, and all the different tools and gadgets that help measure and accomplish goals in the kitchen.
A few toys and tools we really enjoyed this week that you may or may not have include:
- A small retractable tape measure perfect for small hands and easy portability.
- The Hungry Monkey Game which is great for counting, understanding volume, and working on fine motor skills.
Activities to explore with toddlers & preschoolers about how different things are measured
Tape Measure & Ruler
- Show your child how a unit of measurement is standard. This can be done by putting a tape measure a ruler next to each other among other ideas.
- Carry a small retractable tape measure around or tailor’s tape so that this week you and your toddler can measure how big different objects are! You might be surprised what your child wants to measure! My daughter liked measuring things from turtles to the length of the sidewalk!
Using Body Parts / Creative measuring This one is especially fun for young toddlers. This is a great way to show that while measurements can be the same, we can use different types of things to measure. When my daughter and I measured a wooden board with our hands, it was 4 hands wide for her, and 2 for me. For older kids, this is a great way to explain centimeters vs. inches or another similar concept.
- Ask them to be creative by telling you how long/wide something is with either their body or something they have on hand.
- One toddler I watched told me that the couch was 9 California’s long! (The same length as the California on our floor map).
- Whether it’s a kitchen scale or a floor scale, find things from around the house to weigh. It’s just a fun visual both in numbers and understanding that it is actually a measurement.
- All Done Monkey had a great activity she shared called Check the Scale where her preschoolers weighed books and toys from around the house.
Measurements in the kitchen
- We did lots of scooping, pouring, and measuring (which are great for gross motor development) but this week just did them with things that measure from the kitchen.
- Measure a cup of water in a large (2-4 cup) measuring cup. Then explain how when it gets poured into the 1-cup measuring cup, it’s the same quantity. You can also talk about how it’s half full in one, but full in the other. (lots of great measuring discussions here).
- Play a scooping/transfer game with measuring spoons or cups. We did this a lot with beans and even just with the snack she was eating at the time being. The smaller measuring spoons were the most challenging, making ti a fun game for her.
Time & Duration Even small toddlers can enjoy looking at the time and learning about duration. A great way for them to start understanding this is by using a simple egg timer. Not only is it useful just in an overall understand, but it’s a valuable parenting tool too to encourage and teach waiting to those young learners.
- Play with a stop watch! This can be done both as a parent timing a child or vice versa. It’s fun t see how long it takes to do certain tasks. You might see who can build a tower of 10 blocks the fastest or some other similar activity.
- Name the numbers on the clock.
- Watch the clock and see how the numbers change.
- Listen to a ticking analog clock.
How Many? Simple counting For us, we have not actually formally done numbers in tot-school. My daughter loves numbers and we have explored them quite a bit, but this was a way to just give her a sneak peek into counting and numbers by measuring “how many?” Exploring Volume & Quantity
- My toddler loved filling glasses with water and we could measure how much she had to drink by seeing if it was full, half full, or empty.
- We would do simple transfer games to explore both volume and quantity. This was a great way to incorporate learning into snack time.
- We played other games and activities to explore these concepts as well. The Hungry Monkey Game was great for this because we counted to see how many bananas the monkey could eat and also how full the barrel was of bananas.
Temperature & Weather Both precise and relative measurements can be taken with temperature. We talked about hot and cold but also pulled out the thermometer.
- Log the daily temperature outside.
- Feel the outside of a beverage glass. Is it hot or cold? Does it change?
- Take body temperature.
- Get a small rain gauge and see how much rain has fallen in a certain length of time.
Comparison This goes along with temperature in that measuring on a very primary level is a comparison. For the youngest toddlers, heavy and light are about as in depth as you can go, but it’s still a great way to introduce comparison measuring. However, around the ages of 3 and 4 and then older, heavier and lighter can be explored and deduced.
- Heavy vs. Light
- Full vs. empty
- Tall vs. Short
Bible Verse of the week: Deuteronomy 25:15 “You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!