Size Up Your Stuffed Animal: A Measurement Activity

Size Up Your Stuffed Animal: A Measurement Activity Activity

In second grade, children learn how to measure using both non-standard units of measurement and standard units like rulers, scales, and measuring tapes. Your second grader practices these measuring skills at school and should continue this practice at home.

Most children have a favorite stuffed friend or a familiar toy that accompanies them everywhere—to breakfast, bedtime, or anywhere in between. This activity, which can be revisited over and over again, allows your second grader to practice her measuring skills to measure this treasured companion.

What You Need:

  • A favorite stuffed toy or doll
  • Kitchen string
  • Ruler, with both centimeters and inches
  • Approximately 40 plastic linking blocks or cubes, depending on the size of the toy
  • Balance scale
  • Bathroom or food scale
  • Lined or graph paper to record results (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Open the activity. Share with your child that she is going to get to learn more about her toy friend by using her measuring skills to find the toy's weight, its height, and its measurement around.
  2. Make predictions. Let your child take a look at her stuffed toy and make predictions. Encourage her to think about how tall it is, how big around it is, and how much she thinks it weighs. You can use the lined paper to create a chart and record the various measurements and estimates. Creating a chart for the results of each measurement (the estimate and the actual) is a good visual and can be a starting point  to discuss the difference between estimates and actual measurements.
  3. Find the height of the toy. Using blocks, have your child estimate how many blocks or cubes tall she thinks her toy is. Stack the blocks to figure out the toy's actual height. If you're keeping a chart, record your results. Follow the same procedure with both the inch side and centimeter side of the ruler: have her estimate first, perform the actual measurement, then record the results. Discuss how close her estimates were with the actual measurements.
  4. Find the distance around the toy. Ask your child to estimate how many cubes it will take to measure around the toy like a belt. After she makes her estimate, take the kitchen string, wrap it around the toy, and cut it when it circles the toy once.Now, use the measuring tools to measure the length of the string. Measure the string using the cubes first.
  5. Record and discuss the results compared to her estimate. Follow the same steps and measure the string using both the inch and centimeter sides of the ruler. Discuss with her which of her estimates was the closest.
  6. Find out how much the toy weighs. Again, encourage your child to estimate the number of cubes she thinks her toy friend weighs. Use the balance scale: place the toy on one side of the scale, and keep adding cubes to the other side until the scale balances. Let your child figure out the difference between her estimate and the toy's actual weight; you may want to help her set up a subtraction problem for this. Follow the same procedure to figure out the weight of the toy in pounds. Have her make an estimate, then place her toy on the food or bathroom scale.
  7. Discuss. Discuss your findings. Were the predictions correct? Were the estimates accurate? What are the differences between the estimate and the actual measurements?
Extension Activity:

Extension #1: You can continue to take and record measurements of different toys or other stuffed animal friends. Find out which toys are the tallest, the heaviest, the largest, etc.and make comparisons.

Extension #2: If your child enjoyed measuring her treasured stuffed animal or doll, have her practice measuring it again with area and perimeter (the distance around) instead.

To do this, trace the animal on a piece of paper (graph paper will work well for this). Have her estimate how many cubes she thinks it will take to measure the perimeter of the drawing. Next, use the cubes to find the actual perimeter by measuring around the outside of the tracing.

Use the same tracing to measure the area the animal takes up. Have her take a guess, then use the cubes to fill the area of the drawing of the toy. Again, discuss the results with her and possibly have her perform a subtraction problem to find the difference between her estimate and the actual area and perimeter of the toy.

Victoria Hoffman, M.A., is an elementary school teacher, writer and mother from Leonardtown, Maryland. She has taught grades K-5 in both regular and special education classrooms.

Updated on May 7, 2014
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