Did you know that we collect math ideas for each letter of the alphabet? Some are simple — it was fun to create transportation printables for the letter T. But the letter Y… what were we going to do, count yaks?
Thankfully I realized that yarn can be a great math manipulative — for measuring, of course. So today I’m sharing a few ways to teach measurement to kids using yarn.
I decided to do this lesson after my daughter’s day at first grade so that she could participate too. The activities I’ll share can be used with preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders — depending on the ability and interest level of the kids.
For the sake of my Three, we started out very simply. I cut out lengths of yarn in five separate colors and gave each of my kids this piece of paper with colored bars. Their job was to line up each piece of yarn along the edge. Then we talked about which was longest, shortest, second longest, etc.
Next, I gave each of my kids a length of yarn (in their favorite colors, of course). We moved around the house and I pointed out different toys, furniture, and household objects. “Do you think your yarn is shorter or longer than this vent?” My Three was pleased to discover that his string was almost the exact same length.
“My yarn is shorter than the couch.”
“The piano is longer than my piece of yarn.”
Next, the kids cut lengths of yarn to compare our bodies. My Five measured his waist.
Then he measured my waist. After cutting lengths of yarn for every member of the family, including my husband, we laid them out on the floor. My Five announced, “Mommy’s the winner!” Yes. I win. At least I have an excuse (until mid-January).
After doing a lot of work with nonstandard measurement, it was time to introduce inches, feet, and yards. I cut a length of yarn to represent each.
Next, I gave my Six the inch-long piece of yarn, my Three the foot-long piece, and my Five the yard-long piece. By this time my Three had tired of the lesson and moved on to other things. His older siblings, however, hunted for objects that matched their lengths.
Among other things, my Five discovered that the bottom of our refrigerator is about one yard tall.
His sister found items in the craft closet that measured one inch in length.
Our drawers are a foot wide. So are our kitchen chairs.
After a day at school, my Six was ready to go read her books – so just her younger brother (not yet in kindergarten) completed this measurement worksheet with me at his side. He learned to line up the ruler at the end and read the number which matched up with the other end of the rectangle.
My Three was eager to do a page himself. I printed a page for him, which he enjoyed – but it was not something he could have completed on his own. He never quite caught on how to line up the ruler and how to find the number which shows the length. No worries – he’s three!
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You have such amazing resources. Thank-you for sharing:-)
Awsome Ideas!! Will have to work all of them with my pre Ks.
Thank you for the great ideas. I was looking for a math activity for my preschoolers to go with the book “Just how long can a long string be?” by Keith Baker
I’m glad you found this post – it sounds perfect for that book. I haven’t seen it yet. Will have to reserve it from the library for my preschooler!
LOve this! We are starting measurement next week in first grade so this is perfect! Thanks for sharing at After School!!
As I was planning this I thought it would have worked very well in my classroom… hope you get (got) a chance to try it!
Yarn can be used in so many ways, including making math fun!
Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!
Thanks for visiting, Jill!
Ann @ My Nearest and Dearest
This is great, Anna! The yarn is such a simple and effective way to help kids understand length.
Thank you, Ann!
maryanne @ mama smiles
Yarn is pretty useful stuff! Love this activity!
Thanks, Mary Anne!
Katie @ Gift of Curiosity
I have just started doing some basic measurement activities with my kids as well. I love the ideas you shared here using yarn. And how cute that you were the “winner.” 🙂 Hope you have a smooth delivery and transition with your newest addition!
Thank you so much, Katie!
Great ideas for early measurement and introducing standard length. Even after 20 years of living in US yards still stump me 🙂 If you don’t mind, I am going to add this post to my upcoming round up of 100 math ideas for 100 days of school.
Of course you’re welcome to share anything of mine in a round up without asking :). I can certainly understand how the standard system of measurement is confusing. Tonight my 3 year old was using his tape measure to measure the length of the couch. “Mom, the couch is 10 pounds!” 🙂