Q:

Is there any hands-on way that my young children can begin to learn about measurements? -- For Early Learning

A:

There's no greater way for young children to learn math concepts than by manipulating objects. When children measure all sorts of things using nonstandard units, they learn what measurement means. The limiting factor for each activity is a child's ability to count. Be sure to use the terms "length," "area" and "volume" as they do these activities.

Length: (1) Have your child count the steps it takes to cross a room in your home. As the child gets older, he or she can count steps of ever greater distances outside. (2) Have the child make paper-clip chains that are the same length as a variety of objects (book, sock, shoe) and count the number of clips in each chain to find the shortest and longest objects.

Area: This is a more difficult concept than length because of perception problems. It is easy to see when one distance is longer than another, but areas can be deceiving. (1) Soak a doubled paper towel in a dish of colored water to use as an ink pad. Then have your child use a small sponge as a stamp and stamp color rectangles on a sheet of paper, covering it completely. The child should count how many rectangles were stamped. (2) Playing cards can be laid out to cover an object without any overlapping. Then the number of cards needed to cover an area such as a placemat, book or tabletop can be counted. Be sure to relate the card count as the area of the object.

Volume: The volume of a container is the number of unit measures needed to fill the container. (1) Use two cans of different sizes such as a tomato paste can and a coffee can. Have the child fill the large can with the contents of the small can, counting how many canfuls it takes. It is probably easiest to use water. (2) Use two large cans of different sizes. The object is for the child to determine which can holds the larger amount. Have your child count how many small canfuls it takes to fill each large can.