Teaching Your Kids to Measure Up!

Measure Up - Photo by Charles ?? on Unsplash
Boy growing tall and measuring himself on the wall

According to Tueetor’s Premium Partner Cognitive Connections, you can have tremendous fun with your kids when you introduce them to concepts of Measurement and measuring. We’re talking about length, height, width, weight, volume, etc. (P6 parents with kids undergoing PSLE right now…do you remember the year when they asked the weight of some $1 coins?)

Here’s how you can use low-cost, everyday household items and turn them into cool measuring tools. And you don’t have to wait for your child to officially start school to start learning all about, and doing, measurements. Here are 4 main tips to make measurements a part of your daily routine. These pro tips were brought to you by Cognitive Connections and edited by Cecilia Leong.

#1 Measurements Are All Around Us

One should begin exploring the concept of measuring or measurement by using what is familiar to your child. Gather rulers, curved rule (for graphs), measuring cups from the kitchen, measuring tapes from the tool box, canvas/cloth measuring tape from grandma’s sewing machine/kit, measuring spoons, thermometers, alarm clocks, weighing scales or even – for those who might have it – a digital kitchen weighing scale… the list is endless.

With very young children, besides the standard measurement tools and equipment, you could use his favourite toy or stationery. You can introduce the concept of length or height or distance to her by asking her to use her stuffed toy to measure length. Say “how many Rory the dinosaur long is our dining table?” or, “How many Rories tall are you?” Or, “how many Rories does it take from our main door to the kitchen?”

#2 Let’s Talk About Measuring

For younger children, use simple language peppered with comparative lingo like “Who is taller, mummy or daddy?” “Who is shorter, smaller, wider, thinner, heavier, smaller?” or “Which is nearer or further, Gong Gong’s house or school?”

Later when they are slightly older you can include in your daily conversations official measurement terms such as height, length, distance and weight, and introduce all their accompanying measurement unit terms, such as centimetre, metre, kilometer, millilitre or a litre. What’s important is that the former group of words that you introduce your child to, will help him group or associate them with the latter set of official unit terms, hence expanding his vocabulary and concept of measurement.

All these go toward boosting his absorption of ‘measuring’ words and indirect learning of comparison in a more ‘mathematically-inclined’ language. When they are introduced to the same terms in school their background knowledge would have been established, and they would thus be familiar with the language too.

At Cognitive Connections, children are given suggestions for image representations of measurement. For example;
Length – to understand the concept of a centimetre, the width of a finger nail is measured against a real ruler to show the connection between unit measurement and the width of the child’s nail. Then the fingernail can be understood by the child and used as a standard of measurement: “How many fingernails long do you think the exercise book is?” “So how many centimetres long is the exercise book?”

Imagery of a metre– Gong Gong’s walking stick could be mnemonic (memory tool).
“Are you taller, or shorter than Gong Gong’s walking stick? How much taller?”
“How many walking sticks do you think we must line up to reach the ceiling?” Or, “how many walking sticks long is your bed? Is the car?” Let them guess then measure.
Slowly conquer 1 km – use the pedometer on your handphone and take a walk from your home towards a familiar destination, say a nearby park until you clock 1 km. How many footsteps did it take? You just walked 1000 times of Gong Gong’s walking stick lined up end to end!

#3 Keeping Track of Measurements – Volume 

Instead of regular bath toys, engage in a little recycling project to give your toddlers another reason to be reluctant to get out of their daily bath rituals: With a pair of scissors, cut off the tops of boxes of drink cartons with different volumes, namely those that measure 200 ml, 250 ml and 1 litre. Also clean out plastic bottles with volumes of 500 ml/half a litre, as well as 1 litre ones. Try to collect a few pieces of each volume type.

For school-going kids who might have already started to learn to measure volume in litres and millilitres, get ready a common kitchen measuring jug (that measures at least 1-litre) to reuse the water and prepare the same materials (as highlighted above). Here’s what you can set them out to do:

You can also introduce the concept of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) whilst recycling carton boxes for use in this activity. Picture courtesy of Cognitive Connections.

1. Fill the measuring jug up to 1000 ml, fill the 1-litre empty box with all the 1000 ml. Ask why doesn’t the water fill the box completely even when the box’s volume clearly states 1-litre? Expect a variety of answers.

2: Pour water…how many of the 200 ml boxes will fill the 1-litre box?

Stand by a journal/notebook to jot down the answers. Picture courtesy of Cognitive Connections.

Remember to jot down the answers in a notebook or journal.

3: How many 250 ml will fill the 1-litre box? Record.

Filling a 250 ml recycled carton box. Picture courtesy of Cognitive Connections.
Ask your kids: How many 250 ml of water do you need to fill a 1000 ml carton box? Picture courtesy of Cognitive Connections.
As important as measuring: recording down what you’ve found. Getting your child to learn to record what he or she’s learnt, is as important as the act of measuring itself. Picture courtesy of Cognitive Connections.

Repeat the steps for the 125 ml drink carton box to make 1 litre. Doing this just once may not be sufficient practice for those who are new to measuring volumes hence you may have to repeat the experiment a few times until your children would be able to rewind the experience in their minds, and problem solve with a real sense of volume.

To buttress the drink carton boxes, dry them thoroughly to make a poster like this for easy reference; for measuring (and recording) volumes at home.

#3A Bonus Tip:

Another awesome way to introduce your child to the concept of measuring volume, capacity and even time, is to get him to start baking simple recipes with you. Scroll down to the end of
the blog ? for an easy recipe you could use to introduce your children to measurements – and have fun measuring and baking it together!

#4 Measurements in Our Daily Lives – Introducing the Concept of Weight

Next when you schedule a trip to the supermarket, bring your kids along and have them participate in the actual shopping process by looking for, feeling and actually carrying the different weights of various products. These could be a 1-kilogram bag of sugar, or a 2.5 kg bag of rice, a 500 g bag of flour and even a tin of sardines. Get them to note the following:

  1. Where is the weight of the product written?
  2. Are you able to carry home a 2.5 kg bag of rice?
  3. For the older kids, how about 5 kg of rice? 10 kg of rice?
  4. Look for things which weigh 100 g, 200g, 500g 1000g (or the same as 1 kg). Compare the various weights across various products in various different materials, for e.g it could be a tin can, a glass jar, a plastic bag, or even a hard plastic bottle.
  5. How many 5 kg bags of rice does your child thinks he weighs? Compared to his actual weight. Who or what is heavier? How much heavier?

Final bonus tip: When visiting Ikea, take home a complimentary paper measuring tape or two – which is printed at an exact 1 metre – to record every family member’s height. Save a wall to mark this every 2 weeks to a month. The kids would love to see how much all members of the family have grown.

Recipe and image courtesy of BBC’s Good Food.

Here’s an easy Vintage Chocolate Cookie Recipe to teach your young ones all about Volume, Weight and Time. For more information on how Cognitive Connections is the foremost special needs educator on Tueetor’s platform, visit https://tueetor.com/cognitiveconnections, or call 6475 2747.