Measurement activities build kids’ understanding by exploring weight, length, capacity, and area in hands-on ways using rulers and non-standard units. Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade kids will enjoy measuring and building math skills at school and at home.
Measurement Activities for Kids
Measurement is an important math skill that everyone needs to know. Kids learn this skill over multiple years, introducing more difficult measurement concepts with each grade level. Offer many opportunities for them to practice these skills because mastering the basics will allow kids to move on to the next stage of learning.
Measurement Activities by Grade
A standard learning concept each year of grade school is, you guessed it – measurement. Emphasize the basics in the beginning. What is measurement? How are things measured? Teach uncommon units of measurement and compare objects. Then, teach the standard units of measurement. As kids progress through the primary grades, introduce more difficult measurement activities and concepts.
Since each grade is so different, it’s essential to teach measurement with grade-appropriate lessons and activities. Follow your school’s chosen course of study to know when to teach what concept. Here are some grade-appropriate activities that most schools follow.
- Kindergarten – When teaching measurement in kindergarten, help kids understand basic measurement vocabulary and concepts. Weight, height, length … these are just a few essential measurement words of which kids begin to understand the meaning. They also start to compare, order, and sort items based on these ideas.
- 1st Grade – As kids master the basics of measurement, it’s time to build on what they know! Measurement in 1st grade includes skills that build on their vocabulary, teach standard units of measurement, and offer more opportunities for comparisons, ordering, and sorting, and move on to extensions of skill such as estimating capacity.
- 2nd Grade – Learning measurement in 2nd grade is the more extensive practice of the previously learned skills, but also includes metric and imperial measurement. Kids learn different units of measurement, such as centimeters and inches, as well as distance.
Implement these Measurement Activities Today
There are so many exciting ways to teach measurement to kids. Use the following ideas in the classroom or at home. Each activity can be adjusted so that it’s appropriate for your age group’s needs.
Teaching Length, Width, and Height Using Non-Standard Measurement Activities
- Measuring with Objects – Make measuring fun by using different items to measure with. Instead of getting a ruler and measuring how long their pencil is, give kids marbles and have them figure out how many marbles long the pencil is. You can also use candy, cubes, blocks, or any other fun math manipulatives you might have!
- Measure a Friend – Kids will enjoy working together with a partner to measure different body parts. They can take turns measuring how many cubes long their arms, legs, and hands are with this hands-on activity.
- Compare – Comparing everyday objects is another way to practice measurement. Set a handful of objects in front of a kid and have them put those objects in order. They can be in the order of size or weight, whatever measurement concept on which you’re working!
- Challenge Tasks – One great way to get kids moving and figuring out measurement is with challenging tasks. Encourage kids to find an object that is “two hands” tall for instance.
Teaching Length, Width, and Height Using Standard Measurement Activities (With a ruler)
- Task Cards – These are great because they lead kids to measure with a ruler, with prompts such as how tall a textbook is, for example. Instead of task cards, kids can measure things around the room using a ruler and record the measurements.
- Scavenger Hunts – A scavenger hunt is also a great way to teach measurement. Kids will need to search the room for objects that meet the criteria. For example, one thing on the scavenger hunt could be to find something bigger than 3 feet wide. Or, they might look for something that is between 5 and 10 inches long.
- Stations – Set up stations around the room where kids will measure and record various objects.
Teaching Distance using Measurement Activities
- Mapping with Cubes – Determine the distance between two points by placing cubes (or other math manipulatives like counters, dominoes, craft sticks, blocks, pipe cleaners, etc.) between points A and B.
- String Length – Stretch out a piece of string between two objects to see how much distance is in between.
- Paper Airplanes – Measure the distance that a paper airplane traveled with this engaging activity. Kids can design and create the ultimate paper airplane, and then test it out to see how far it flies.
- Long-distance jump – Mark the floor with masking tape and corresponding distance lengths. Students take long jumps and record their distances. This fun activity will be great for an indoor rainy day to add some fun physical activity while learning.
- Graphing – Use your distance answers from the activities above and build a graph to compare the distances between objects.
Teaching Capacity using Measurement Activities
- Cook! – Yes, cook! One everyday task that uses measurement is cooking! When adding ingredients to a recipe, kids measure with cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, or a “pinch.” Kids can practice measuring capacity by following a recipe and cooking something! If the recipe is for a tasty treat, learning will be so much more fun!
- Compare Cups – Each person or group gets 2 cups (one tall, one wide – not the same size, but not easy to tell which holds more either – approximately the same size). Discuss how much you think each cup holds. The assignment – figure out which cup holds more and explain your answer.
- Gallon Man – Bring in measuring cups and empty grocery items to discuss ounces, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons (cream, orange juice, milk, etc.). Demonstrate how the smaller items fit into the larger items X number of times. Apply these principles to a gallon man printable for the students to assemble.
Teaching Weight using Measurement Activities
- Hands-On – Holding different objects and judging which are heavier or lighter can give students a grasp on weight concepts. Give them objects that are 1 pound or 1 ounce, and let them hold them to actually feel the weight of them in their hands.
- A Scale – Weight is a measurement concept that can be a little tricky. To work on this concept, bring in a scale and give kids the chance to weigh objects from around the room. If a kid wants to see what their eraser weights, have them hold the eraser in their hand and get a gauge for how it feels. Then, place it on the scale and see what it weighs! Repeat this with other objects. Soon enough, kids will be able to estimate what an object weighs before actually weighing it!
- Mystery Bags – Fill a variety of bags (lunch bags are easy and can hide the objects inside) with items from around the classroom. Mark each bag with some kind of label, color, letter, or any other thing to differentiate them. First, you can have kids guess what might be in the bags so they can use their deductive reasoning skills. Next, have them use a scale and determine the weight. Finally, have the children order the bags from heaviest to lightest or vice versa. Students can fill out a worksheet with various questions.
Teaching Area using Measurement Activities
- Legos – Have some simple Lego creations already built to use in class to practice area and perimeter. The area would be how many cubes are in the creation whereas perimeter would be counting the bricks on the edge.
- Covering Shapes – A simple way to teach area at a young age is to have kids cover things or shape cut-outs with cards, blocks, cubes, or another non-standard unit. They can make an estimate of how many they think it will take to cover the shape, and then check their guess after it is covered.
- Geoboards – Place a rubber band around the pegs and determine area and perimeter.
- Graph Paper – Design a space (bedroom, classroom, zoo, city, etc.) on graph paper and have the students determine the area and perimeter. You can do the opposite and make it a project where you assign the area and perimeter and the students need to draw and label the design themselves.
Online Learning Measurement Activities
If you’re looking for an alternative way for kids to practice measurement, there are a ton of resources online! These math websites allow kids to practice (and master) math concepts, including measurement.
One of the best resources you can use to teach any concept is books! That’s because no matter what you are teaching, it’s essential to use different strategies to help all different types of learners, including visual learners. How can a book help explain a math concept? When reading a measurement book aloud, you’re giving kids the chance to hear and learn important measurement vocabulary, as well as observe measurement in action. Once you read a book aloud, it can be added to your classroom library or a centers basket so that kids can read it to themselves! If you’re ready to teach measurement using books, these measurement books and videos will get you started!
- Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni – A classic book about a little inchworm measuring different things in nature, this book is an excellent introduction to measurement.
- Measuring Penny by Loreen Leedy – In this book, a little girl has the assignment to measure things at home. She uses different units to measure her pets. Kids will be drawn to this book and see the practical aspect of measurement.
- How Tall, How Short, How Far Away? by David Adler – This is an interactive book that helps give students a look at the development of units of measurement throughout history. It has a hands-on element that will allow the students to explore the concepts first-hand.
- Super Sand Castle Saturday by Stuart J. Murphy – In this fun book, kids are participating in a sandcastle building contest. They use various ways to measure their castles to see who has the longest, tallest, deepest, etc.
- Me and the Measure of Things by Joan Sweeney – With bright illustrations, this book introduces students to different units of measurement and their typical uses.
- How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide by Brian Cleary – The goofy cats in this book explain how to use different units to measure things around them. They also introduce tools for measuring those objects.
- Ants Rule: The Long and Short of It by Bob Barner – As the ants are preparing for the Blowout Bug Jamboree!, they have to plan the size of the rides. They measure how much space each bug needs by using themselves (ants) as their unit of measurement. This is a great book to introduce the concept of measurement to early learners.
- On the Scale, a Weighty Tale by Brian Cleary – The comical cats are back to introduce the concept of weight. This rhyming book helps to give students an idea of how different units of weight compare to one another through goofy examples.
- How Big Is a Foot? by Rolf Myller – This funny book is a useful resource for teaching young learners about the need for standard units of measurement. The king wants to give the queen a bed for her birthday. When using all different size feet to measure the bed, the reader can clearly see the need to have a standard by which to measure objects.
- Millions to Measure by David M. Schwartz – This book explores the invention of measurements, precisely length, weight, and volume. It also addresses the metric system.
Resources for Teaching Measurement
The activities seen in this post are available in various resources found on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click the images above to visit the unit that has the activity seen in the photo. Find out why teachers love the Mindful Math program for Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
What Teachers are Saying About Mindful Math Measurement Units
One of the best Math resources when you are trying to supplement a Big Box curriculum. I love that this comes with centers on top of the lessons and other materials. Thank you for this great resource! ~ Farris’ Firsties
I’m loving this so much! Definitely helps me plan out my lessons daily for math!!! ~ Amanda A.
FREE Measurement Activity
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Materials To Teach Measurement
- Learning Resources Measuring Worms – These bright, squishy worms are an excellent tool for early exploration of measurement. Use them to measure various things around the classroom.
- Mix And Measure Activity Set – This set is a good way for young students to explore the concept of capacity. The kit contains colorful measuring tools and recipe cards for fun things like slime, puffy paint, and more.
- Learning Resources Simple Tape Measure – Having basic measurement tools in the classroom is a must, as students learn how to measure things for themselves. This is a simple tape measure that will be easy for the students to use.
- InchWorms Measurement Kit – Snap these small inchworm pieces together to create longer measuring tools, teaching students the building blocks of units of measurement.
- Bucket Balance – This balance allows students to explore the concept of measurement more fully by comparing the weights of various objects and substances, including liquids.
- Unifix Cubes – Versatile manipulatives used to practice a variety of math concepts, including measurement.
- Safe-T Ruler in 6 Colors – A basic, yet colorful set of rulers for each student to practice their measuring skills.
- Measurement Mini Bulletin Board – This is an interactive resource that students can use in small groups, to hang on the wall or use in pocket folders. It will provide a good opportunity for kids to practice measurement principles.
- Gallon Measurement Set – A measuring set for liquid measurements of cups to gallons.
- Gallon Man Cut-Outs – This handy reference is an excellent way to help students remember how many cups make a pint, how many pints make a quart, etc. The students can have their own personal one to refer to when needed.
There are so many enjoyable ways to learn about measurement. I hope that the ideas above are helpful to you as you plan your measurement lessons!
More Measurement Teaching Ideas
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