Literacy in the Sciences: Activity No. 5

Measure Up!

Measure Up!

Hands-on measurement activities are fun to explore with children. Introduce your young learner to these interesting new vocabulary words and knowledge, and help your child develop an early love of measuring everything in sight!

Hands-on measurement activities are fun to explore with children. Armed with interesting new vocabulary words and knowledge, your young learner will soon be measuring everything in sight!

Measurement all around us

Begin exploring measurement by asking your child to help you collect all the objects around your house that help you measure. This can include rulers, measuring cups, tape measures, thermometers, clocks, laundry soap scoops, and the container you use to measure dog food.

Gather these items and talk about how each is used to help us measure something. Sort the objects into things that measure liquids, things that measure length, and others. Collecting and sorting is a great way for your child to see how often we use measurement in our daily life.

Many ways to measure

In addition to measuring using standard measurement tools such as a ruler, it's important for kids to measure using non-standard measurement tools. For example, you can ask your child to use stuffed animals to measure distance. "How many stuffed animals long is our kitchen table? How many stuffed animals does it take to measure our hallway?" Shaped graham crackers, blocks, and dried pasta make other good non-standard measurement units.

Let's talk about measuring

When measuring, help your young explorer use terms such as taller, shorter, wide, small, large, lighter, heavier, hotter, colder, warm, and variations of the terms such as large, larger, largest, small, smaller, smallest. As you're talking about what you're doing, use measurement vocabulary words such as thermometer, calendar, ruler, meter stick or yard stick, clock, and scale. These words help your child compare items and expand your child's vocabulary.

Keeping track of measurements

As you do with all with all science and math related activities, encourage your young learner to record their estimates and findings in a special notebook or journal. Have your child record the distances measured using various objects, record the weight of objects that are weighed and track how much time chores take using a stopwatch. Simple drawings and labels that order objects from smallest to largest provide a chance to put all the language arts, math, and science skills together.

Recommended children's books

Actual Size

Actual Size

By Steve Jenkins

This colorful, oversized book reveals a wide range of animals, from very small to huge, at actual size. Part of the fun is talking about how the author/illustrator can fit the two-foot tongue of a giant anteater on the pages of the book. This is a beautiful and engaging introduction to the idea of relative size. (Ages 4-8)



By Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

A charming picture book about a hen who decides to make a strawberry shortcake with her friends...none of whom know anything about cooking. Iguana tries to measure the flour with a ruler! Hen teaches about measuring properly with the right tools and the author includes side notes about dry versus liquid measuring, as well as equivalents such as 1 stick butter = 1 cup = 8 tablespoons. (Ages 4-8)

How Big Is a Foot?

How Big Is a Foot?

By Rolf Myller

The Queen's apprentice needs to build a new bed for the Queen. But how big is a bed when beds have not been invented yet? The amusing story is a fun introduction to the concept of standard measurement. (Ages 4-8)

Measuring Penny

Measuring Penny

By Loreen Leedy

A young girl named Lisa has a homework assignment to measure something in as many ways as she can. "Use your imagination!" says the teacher. Lisa chooses her dog Penny and discovers, among other things, that Penny's tail is one biscuit long. This engaging book teaches the difference between standard and non-standard measurement. (Age level: 4-8)

How Tall, How Short, How Far Away

How Tall, How Short, How Far Away?

By David A. Adler

Learn the units of measure (including the metric system) by comparing the lengths to fingers, arms, feet, and other body parts. You'll find lots of examples of how we use measurement in everyday activities as well as hands-on activities, such as asking the reader to see how tall you are using units of measure from ancient Egypt. (Ages 6-9)

Millions to Measure

Millions to Measure

By David M. Schwartz

An entertaining look at linear, weight, and volume measurements, with Marvelossimo the Mathematical Magician as your guide. The book clearly explains the metric system and why it's used around the world. (Ages 4-8)

Reading Rockets (2011)


You are welcome to print copies or republish materials for non-commercial use as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact [email protected]

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