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Children generally develop the basic concepts of measurement by comparing objects with each other. They need to play and experiment with a variety of things before they can move to using formal units such as inches or yards when describing or measuring quantity.
Learning to measure is an important and practical skill that’s frequently put to use in real life activities such as when buying groceries or painting a house. Teaching your child basic measurement concepts doesn’t have to revolve around solving problems on paper or math textbooks. Kids, by nature, are great observers and learn more by doing rather than listening or reading and this holds true for measurement skills than almost anything else.
Teaching Measuring and Comparing to Preschoolers
Through Fun, Everyday Activities
- Talk about who is ‘taller’ and ‘shorter’ when comparing the height of family members.
- Spread out a sheet of newspaper on the floor. Count how many books will fit on top of it.
- Ask your child to build a tall tower up to about 2 feet in height by stacking up blocks.
- Talk about the size of a tablecloth or bed-cover needed to cover a table or the bed.
- Recording your child’s growth on a height chart is a measurement activity for children that always gets them excited.
- Roll out two ‘ropes’ of different lengths using play dough. Tell him about one rope being shorter and the other longer.
- Trace your child’s hand or foot on a piece of paper and cut it out. Use it to measure the length of things such as a table or the bed.
- Walk around objects and talk about how many steps it takes.
- Use a stick to measure distances between seedlings when planting in the garden.
- Another lesson in measurement for kids can be to point out the distance your car has travelled.
Through Visuals for Better Understanding
Children learn when they play. Being visual learners, they grasp concepts about shapes, colours and sizes all while playing with different objects. Measurement games for kids help them learn about length, breadth, height and area through playing with things such as play dough, blocks, ribbons and even scale model toys. While playing, they observe things like the size and shape of objects, how cubes can be stacked up while round objects can be rolled, how things fit together, and how one object is longer than the other.
Once your child is able to understand the concept of size and measurements, he can then be introduced to ways to measure things using different tools, whether it’s a ruler or a tape or something else. Then comes teaching the units of measurement to kids. He’ll learn how to express quantity in certain units of measurement like inches or centimeters and not just a general ‘big’ and ‘small’.
Kids need to be encouraged to learn such mathematical concepts through activities that teach measurement. By encouraging them to explore and manipulate objects, they gain the practical experience required to cement their understanding.