Early Measurement Concepts

A growing number of you are beginning to stop by my blog each day and I thank you. My goal is to build a robust resource that continues to meet your needs throughout the year. I hope that you will take a few minutes to leave a comment or send me an e-mail to let me know how I am doing or make a request.

I thought I’d mix up the format today and begin with a few teaching tips before discussing any specific book titles. Let me know what you think or if you have format preference.

Teaching Tips

A skill that both teachers and students wrestle with year after year is measurement. Teachers struggle with creating meaningful learning opportunities to effectively teach measurement concepts and it is a skill many students find difficult to master. In my opinion, the best solution from both perspectives is finding numerous opportunities to measure through the school year rather than a single one or two week unit that is rushed through near the end of the school year.

Beginning with the youngest students we start with measuring and comparing objects using non-standard units. Ask the children variety of questions that encourage them to ponder their results. There is no need to use store-bought manipulatives if they are not readily available. For example ask How many paper clips wide is your desktop? How many pencil lengths wide is your desktop? Why do you need more paperclips than pencils to measure your desktop? Ask them to predict how wide the desktop might be using a different object as the unit. The more children are able to explore measurement the better they will be able to develop their skills.

You do not have to limit their exploration to linear units. They can measure capacity by filling different size containers with rice or sand. Challenge them to predict then test how many scoops of a smaller container are needed to fill a larger container. Weight can be explored using a balance scale and experimenting how many of one object are needed to balance the scale when a different object is resting in one of the pans.

Carrie Measures’s Up by Linda Abner and Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni and Super Sand Castle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy are good choices for children as they explore measurement concepts.

“Measuring Experiences for Young Children” published in the February 2004 issue of Teaching Children Mathematics is filled with more ideas for creating measurement investigations using non-standard units.

“Rulers of Different Colors” from the August 2007 issue of TCM offers teaching ideas for transitioning students from non-standard to standard units.

Drop by again tomorrow for more on measurement.
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