Science and Stories: Measuring

By Awnali Mills

Today was Science and Stories: Measuring.  We had stories about measuring, and size. The books I used were Actual Size by Steve Jenkins, Up, Tall and High by Ethan Long, and Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni.

Actual SizeUp, Tall and HighInch by Inch

In my magic bag I had a ruler.  The kids had absolutely no trouble telling me what a ruler was for, but were less than enthusiastic when I told them that we were going to be doing measuring science.  Juuust wait, little kiddies!

Our first book was Actual Size.  This was far and away the most popular book of the morning.  I started by asking which was bigger, a moth or a fish?  They assured me that fish are Most Definitely bigger.  Then, I showed them the first pictures in the book and all bets were off!  One child got to compare his head to a brown bear’s, another her teeth to a shark’s teeth, and yet another her foot to an elephant’s foot.  They were absolutely engaged the entire time.

Then I did Little Mouse, Little Mouse, emphasizing “little mouse” and “big house.”  Little Mouse is always a crowd pleaser.

We then read Up, Tall and High.  They enjoyed the book and liked predicting what would happen.

Next was the flannel story Herman the Worm.  The more Herman eats, the bigger he gets until BURP!  Then he’s little again!

We some big, little and wide stretches to loosen us up, then into Inch by Inch.  I thought this would be a good intro into the measuring segment.  If I had to do it again, though, I might try switching Actual Size and Inch by Inch in the line-up.

I had five stations for the children to explore:

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  1. Measured Rainbow

Kids took strips of ROY G BIV colored construction paper and then cut them to size:

Red = 11”, Orange = 10”, Yellow = 9”, Green = 8”, Blue = 7”, Indigo = 6”, and Violet = 5”

Then stack all of the strips of paper together in ROY G BIV order with red on top.  Next, align and staple the aligned end together.  Bend and align the other end and staple to form a rainbow!  Rulers were available for measuring the paper.  Don’t be like me and forget the scissors. 🙂

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  1. Things Around You

Suggestions for measuring were tables, chairs, the room, a book, and a stool (basically, stuff in the library.)  Regular rulers, yardsticks, and two surveyor’s tape measures were at this station.

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  1. Triceratops

I taped a printout of a triceratops footprint to the floor so that kids could measure it and compare it to their own feet.  There were regular rulers here.

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4.  Measuring Height

At this station, suggestions were: “How big are you?” “How big is your adult?” “Who is bigger?” “What if you combined your height with your brother or sister’s?  Would that be the same size as your adult?”  Yardsticks and regular rulers were here.

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  1. Comparing Parts

Suggestions at this station were: “Which is longer—your hand or your foot?” “Your hand or your face?” “Your arm span or your height?” “Your thumb or your pinky?” “Your arm or your leg?”  Two cloth tape measures were here, as well as some 6” rulers and a few regular 12” rulers.

Although the kids didn’t seem particularly excited about getting to measure things, once they got the tools in their hands, they went nuts!  The measured rainbow station was the busiest one, right up until I showed a child how to use the surveyor’s tape to measure the room.  Then there was a line of kids anxiously awaiting their turn. (FYI, the room’s dimensions didn’t change A Single Time!)  I told the adults that their job was not to measure, but to assist children learning how to measure for themselves, and they were active participants.  One pregnant mommy even graciously allowed her tummy to be measured.

Notes on rulers:  The night before the program, I raided every ruler in the library (who knew there were a bazillion rulers lurking in desk drawers?  People were amazed).  I provided labels so that people could get their own rulers back, but not everyone cared about that.  The cloth sewing tapes and the surveyor’s tapes my husband used for setting up playing fields, I brought from home.  I made a choice not to use retractable tape measures because of the possibility of small fingers being damaged by strong snap-backs.  This was a command decision made after I gave myself a blood blister when I was measuring something at home for a project and accidentally released the tape.  As cool as they are, if it hurt me, it wasn’t worth the risk to small fingers.

Random photos:

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