Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Measuring Up

It is time for another math lesson. This week we are going to focus on measuring people and items. There will be numerous items that we are going to measure but the important part is the type of items we use to measure. Our focus is going to be on standard and non-standard forms of measurement. A ruler is a great item and a child should always learn how to measure with a standard school ruler but a ruler is not always available when you need or want to measure something. We went a step further with the ruler and pulled out our tape measure also. Kids are always excited to use “Grown up Tools” that they see their parents using. My son could barely contain the excitement when I let him use the tape measure.

When you are looking for things to measure, use everyday items to increase a child’s understanding of the concept of measurement. The terms standard and non-standard are used frequently when describing measurement. Measuring with standard units refers to measuring with inches, feet, yards, centimeters or meters using a ruler or other measuring device. Measuring with non-standard units refers to measuring with blocks, pencils, hands, etc.

We started by measuring with our standard school ruler that is 12 inches long. I laid out several things for my son to measure that I knew were shorter than 12 inches. We measured a dollar bill (6 inches)l, a crayon (3.5 inches), a marker (6 inches) and two pieces of chalk (4 inches and 3 inches).

Each time we got ready to measure an item he would estimate how long he thought the item would be in inches. We wrote his estimate on our log and then we would measure the item and write the correct measurement on the log. After we measured the first piece of chalk he hypothesized that the second piece of chalk would have the same measurement. When we measured the second piece of chalk we found it was shorter than the first piece because we had actually used it on the sidewalk the previous day. He was surprised that it gets smaller.

After those items were measured I showed him the next items that we were going to measure: pillow (26 inches), book (11 inches), blackboard (17 inches), fire truck (18 inches) and his leg (17 inches). He again gave me his estimates for the length of each item and we recorded the estimates prior to measurement. When he started to measure he quickly realized he did not have enough rulers to measure any of these items. We talked about how when you are measuring items you need to be exact so we pulled out the tape measure and he used that to measure these items.

After these measurements were taken we sat down and talked about how other things are measured. Did you know that horses are measured by hands? We traced his hand and cut it out to measure items. One yard or three feet is the same as the distance from your nose to your thumb; that is how they measure fabric in non-standard units. We then went around trying to measure items in the house using his hand as a unit of measurement. After we measured a few items we talked about how sometimes you do not have a ruler or tape measure with you and you still need to know a measurement of on item. What do you do then? We pulled out a few items to use: Paperclips; pencils; Lego's; paper and a dollar bill. We pulled out all of the previous items that we had measured and used our non-standard units of measurement to get the length of the items. We enjoyed the non-standard units because it was fun to keep adding items on in order to figure out the length but it was also difficult to be exact.

I would call this lesson a huge success as currently we are measuring everything in my home!

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