For children first learning the concept of measurement, standard units of measurement can seem complicated and abstract. Using atypical units of measurement, rather than inches or centimeters, helps the process become more interesting and concrete. Gummy bears or gummy worms provide the perfect nonstandard (and yummy!) novelty item for prompting your child's investigation into the bright new world of measurement.
What You Do:
- Have your child wash his hands thoroughly with soap and water before embarking on this activity, because he will inevitably want to sample his units of measurement.
- Tell your child that you two will be going on a hunt to find objects of different sizes. You can use the words length and width if you want to give a general introduction to these concepts.
- Tell your child that, instead of using a ruler to measure objects, he will be using gummy bears or gummy worms. Gummy bears work well if you want a more consistent measurement unit, while gummy worms add some complexity regarding whether or not you stretch them when using them to measure objects.
- Ask your child to measure his hand or a simple, small object like a book. Check to make sure they know how to line up the gummy figures properly, touching but not overlapping, to accurately record measurement.
- Give your child a goal! Invite him to find an object that measures 5 gummy figures long or tall. Once he finds an item that matches this criteria, help him draw it and label it on a piece of paper. Then, give him other measurements to find, or ask him to create a sequential book of objects measuring 1 gummy figure, 2 gummy figures, etc.
This exercise will inspire your child to compare and contrast measurements of different objects, using a surprising new unit. When he is done with the activity, he can gobble up his measurement tools for a tasty reward!
Serena Makofsky has a multiple subjects teaching credential with an emphasis in cross-cultural instruction. She taught in inner city classrooms for many years. She also writes curriculum for English language learners.