What does measuring mean?

Just telling a child to measure something really doesn’t help them to understand the concept of measurement. Measurement is a math concept children will use the rest of their lives, so it’s important to build a true foundation of measurement concepts. In order to truly understand the concept of measurement, children need lots of practice, with hands on practical opportunities. These basic principles are:

1. Appropriate units 
What units of measurement are most appropriate for the item being measured. A unit for a fence around a garden, will not work for measuring their thumb. It’s important they learn to use units that make sense. Measuring a tree height in centimeters doesn’t make sense but measuring a finger in centimeters does make sense.

2. Identical units 
A unit, is a uniform concept. A pencil is 4 inches long means every inch is the same size.

3. Iteration 
So, measurement really is repeating the same unit, over and over.

What are Children Thinking about Length?

Children in primary grades can repeat and follow a rule without understanding the concept behind the rule. In order to build a deep understanding of measurement, the concept must be broken down, and used in unconventional ways. If children are taught to only use standard measurements, they could just be repeating what they see and are taught. They may be able to use a ruler, but really can’t explain why they are using it!

Using items that we normally don’t use as items to measure objects lets them begin to understand what a unit really means. Using paperclips to measure the length of a book, or counting tiles to measure the height of a table, can help students to think, rather than just follow a rule!

Why is measurement important?

We have to teach physical attributes of objects to identify what they need to measure. This is important because children need to be aware of the attributes and decide how they need to measured. This concept will last throughout their entire lives. Some very important geometric rules, rule on concepts like volume, weight, and length. Students must understand what things like length, mass, and volume are before they can really measure and compare attributes. So not only will they use measurement in the real world, but also later in their math studies.

Comparison of Objects

Comparison is used to describe units of measurement meaningfully.  To say my book bag is light doesn’t really mean very much, but my book bag is lighter than Steven’s book bag, conveys meaning about weight.

Tips to Teach Measurement

When comparing length teach students to align one end of all the objects being compared. You may need to remind the students to check this every time until it becomes a habit.

Identical units must be used to compare objects when measuring. For example a student needs to choose one unit (that makes sense) to measure all the objects. So the student will measure all 3 pencils with a unit of centimeters.

Have children practice mixing different units, like a yardstick and a ruler. Children will measure the room and say their answers “ my room is 6 yard sticks and 3 rulers long,” while another student may say the” room is 9 rulers long and 1 yardstick.”  Leading students in a discuss why these have different answers, will help them understand why using only 1 unit is important.

Have children mark off the spot for each repeated unit of measure, as remembering the number they are on, and measuring correctly is hard, and they will lose track of their place.

Repeated practice can bore children so its important for the teacher to be creative!

Measurement provides opportunities to strengthen both children’s number and measurement understandings at the same time.

How to motivate kids for measurement?

In short, with appropriate game for the start!

We have created a motivational game that uses images like stickers on a ruler. The longer the ruler the more images it has. The game really encourages students to use ordinary objects that they can identify, to get the concept of measuring. These objects are on a fixed scale. We have many images suitable for children. For example cars can be used to measure length. Anything can be used to measure in this way and can also be described with a numerical value.

measurement game
MEASUREment Game