Size Up Your Stuffed Animal: A Measurement Activity

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 they are going to get to learn more about their toy friend by using their measuring skills to find the toy's weight, its height, and its measurement around.
  2. Make predictions. Let your child take a look at their stuffed toy and make predictions. Encourage them to think about how tall it is, how big around it is, and how much they think 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 they think their 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 them estimate first, perform the actual measurement, then record the results. Discuss how close their 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 they make their 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 their estimate. Follow the same steps and measure the string using both the inch and centimeter sides of the ruler. Discuss with them which of their estimates was the closest.
  6. Find out how much the toy weighs. Again, encourage your child to estimate the number of cubes they think their 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 their estimate and the toy's actual weight; you may want to help them set up a subtraction problem for this. Follow the same procedure to figure out the weight of the toy in pounds. Have them make an estimate, then place their 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 their treasured stuffed animal or doll, have them 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 them estimate how many cubes they think 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 them take a guess, then use the cubes to fill the area of the drawing of the toy. Again, discuss the results with them and possibly have them perform a subtraction problem to find the difference between their estimate and the actual area and perimeter of the toy.

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