To understand measurement, kids need direct experiences with comparing and ordering objects. But that doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down with a ruler. It might mean figuring out which jump rope is the longest, or which ball is larger than the bouncy ball, but smaller than the basketball. This measurement activity uses feet to compare objects, but not the ones found on rulers and measuring sticks…the feet on your child’s own body!
What You Do:
- Trace a copy of your child’s right foot onto construction paper. Give her a stack of the paper and ask her to trace each family member’s right foot on a separate sheet. Cut out each foot pattern and label it with the name of its owner. Examine the foot patterns and discuss similarities and differences. Who has the biggest foot? The smallest? Are any of them the same size? Ask your child to place the foot patterns in order from largest to smallest and from smallest to largest.
- Much of measurement is about comparing things. Challenge your child to use her foot cut-out and find something longer than, shorter than, and about the same size as her foot. Give her construction paper and markers and ask her to trace a model of these items. Recording findings is an essential organizational tool and helps your child learn how real-life mathematicians and scientists record their findings in order to discuss their work with others.
- Ask your child to choose another foot pattern to measure things around your home. For example, how many Dad foot lengths long is the kitchen table? How many Mom foot lengths wide is the refrigerator? Use the foot cut-outs from other family members to measure the same household objects and compare the results. Did it take more or less Mom foot lengths to measure the kitchen table?
- Ask your child to walk from his bedroom to the front door. How many steps does it take? Record the number on a piece of paper and then have another member of the family do the same thing. How many steps does it take them? Was it more or less than your child’s answer? Discuss why. Then graph your results. An easy way to do this is to write the names of each of the family members on the bottom of a piece of paper, going left to right. Above each name, draw the number of feet it took to reach the door. (For example, if it took 12 steps, stack 12 foot pictures on top of each other.)
With practice like this, your child is sure to enjoy measuring up!
Latrenda Knighten has spent 19 years teaching in a variety of elementary school classrooms, from kindergarten through fifth grade. For nine of those years, she taught kindergarten. She also served as an elementary school math and science specialist. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.