Measurement is a skill most kids are eager to learn since it’s easy to see the real-life applications. Generally, students are introduced to the idea by comparing sizes, then trying out some non-standard measurement. Then it’s time to break out the rulers, scales, and measuring cups! These measurement activities cover all these concepts and more, giving kids lots of practice.
1. Start with an anchor chart
Measurement involves a lot of different terms and concepts. Make colorful anchor charts to help kids remember them all.
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2. Begin by comparing sizes
The pre-K crowd can get a head start by comparing sizes: taller or shorter, bigger or smaller, and so on. In this cute activity, kids make pipe cleaner flowers, then “plant” them in a Play-Doh garden from shortest to tallest.
Learn more: Planning Playtime
3. Use LEGO bricks for non-standard measurement
Non-standard measurement is the next step for young learners. LEGO bricks are a fun hands-on manipulative that pretty much everyone has on hand. Use them to measure toy dinosaurs or anything else you have lying around.
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4. Measure by the foot
Measure the length of bookcases, floor tiles, playground equipment, and more by pacing it off with your own two feet. If you like, you can measure the length of one foot and convert the non-standard measurements to inches.
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5. Compare height with yarn
Measure a child’s height in yarn, then have them compare the yarn’s length to other objects around the room. You can also create a fun display by taping up a picture of each child with their yarn to show their height.
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6. Snip lengths of pipe cleaners
The more practice kids get with measurement, the better they’ll be. One easy idea is to cut random lengths of pipe cleaner and have students measure them in inches and centimeters. Pipe cleaners are inexpensive, so you can make enough for every child to get a handful.
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7. Build a cityscape
First, kids cut out and design a city skyline. Then, they use their rulers to measure and compare the heights of the buildings.
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8. Go on a measurement hunt
For a fun practice activity, have kids find objects that fit certain criteria. They’ll have to estimate, then measure to see if they’re right.
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9. Race cars and measure the distance
Zoom! Send cars racing along from a start line, then measure how far they’ve gone.
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10. Jump like a frog
If your kids need to move while they learn, they’ll love this activity. Kids stand on a starting line and jump forward as far as they can, marking their landing spot with tape (or sidewalk chalk if you’re outside). Use a measuring tape to calculate the distance, then see if you can beat it!
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11. Play a game of measurement tag
You’ll need chart paper, colored markers, and a pair of dice for this one. Each player starts in a corner and rolls the dice to find the number of inches for that turn. They use a ruler to make a line in any direction. The goal is to catch another player at exactly their last stopping point. This is the kind of game that can go on for days; leave it posted in a corner for students to take their turns when they have a few spare minutes.
Learn more: Jillian Starr Teaching
12. Learn to use a balance scale
Distance is only one form of measurement; don’t forget about weight! Compare two objects by holding them in your hands. Can you guess which weighs more? Find the answer by using the scale.
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13. Improvise a scale from a hanger
No play scale on hand? Make one using a hanger, yarn, and two plastic cups!
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14. Compare and measure liquid volume
Volume can be a little tricky for kids. It’s easy to assume the tallest container will hold the most liquid, but that may not be so. Explore by pouring water into various containers in this simple measurement activity.
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15. Experiment with measuring cups and spoons
Prepare kids for cooking and baking by playing around with measuring cups and spoons. Rice is terrific for this activity, but it also works well in the sandbox.
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16. Match conversion puzzles
There are so many terms and conversions to learn when it comes to measurements! Grab these free printable puzzles to give kids a fun way to practice.
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17. Measure perimeter with chocolate kisses
Apply your measuring skills to area and perimeter activities. Start with non-standard measurement, like seeing how many chocolate kisses it takes to outline an object.
Learn more: Fantastic Fun and Learning
18. Set up a perimeter lab
Continue the perimeter learning with a measuring lab. Provide a variety of objects for kids to measure. Practice makes perfect!
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19. Use yarn to introduce circumference
How do you use a flat ruler to measure a round or irregular surface? Yarn to the rescue! Use it to introduce circumference by measuring an apple. (For more advanced students, cut the apple in half to measure diameter and use that to calculate the circumference too.)
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20. Estimate the height of a tree
When it’s not practical to climb to the top of a tree with a measuring tape, try this method instead! Learn how it works at the link.
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Looking for more ways to make math fun? Try these 30 LEGO Math Ideas and Activities!
Plus, find all the Best K-5 Math Resources here.