Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mathematics and Preschoolers VIII

Well, introducing the Classic Balance Scale with Bears, from www.discountschoolsupply.com, yesterday made me realize that I haven't talked about measurement yet.  At the preschool level we want to introduce vocabulary that goes along with measurement and then the majority of our hands-on activities are going to be nonstandard measurement. 

So let's start with vocabulary:
It's starts as simple as "big" and "small".  Here are some other vocab that I use regularly, not in any specific order.
long, longer, longest
big, bigger, biggest
small, smaller, smallest
tall, short
narrow, wide
ruler, tape measure, scale
perimeter (actually this is used daily.  We glue "around the perimeter" of the shape.)
heavy, light
equal, same
more, less, fewer
couple, dozen
yesterday, today, tomorrow, week, month, year
about, approximately
Some vocab for specific activities:
cup, oz, tbs. etc
time, minute, hours
inch, foot, yard

So what is nonstandard measurement?  Simply put...it's measuring without using an actual ruler, tape measure, scale etc.  Our goal is to "introduce" measurement.  Does that mean we never get the rulers and tape measures out.  Absolutely not.  We get them out for free exploration or for practical purpose when it's part of our verbal problem solving (please talk your "problems" out so your children hear how you are solving the problem...this is priceless!).  We just don't expect them to measure something and tell us how many inches, cm, etc an object is (some children will and that is just fine!). 

Children love to measure with their body.  Talk about how when we measure we have to use the same size object and they must be put one after another.  You can show how it works on a ruler. 
   * Sid the Science Kid: Exploring Measurement is an excellent DVD for preschoolers as an intro.  After watching this DVD they'll want to measure a room using their complete body.
   *  You can measure how long objects, let's say a piano bench, is by measuring with a child's hand.
   *  Measure how long the sandbox with their feet, one foot in front of another.

All those manipulatives that you are using for patterning, counting, sorting and etc can be used for measurement also!  (As long as they are the same size.)  Linking cubes, plastic links, inch cubes, blocks, crackers, craft sticks, dominoes,.  And check your toy shelf...what can be used there? Once you show a child how to do this, you'll begin to see it in their own play. Presently we have our Cracker Barrel Checkers set out.  Do they play checkers?  No.  They do use them for 1:1 activities, matching colors, patterning, measuring and so on.

The maraca is 3 dominoes long.

The window is 19 checkers wide.

Another manipulative that works well for measuring is the Gingerbread Sort and Snap.  We purchased ours from www.discountschoolsupply.com.  I take that back...we got our from www.amazon.com with free super saver shipping :-) but you can purchase from Discount.

The rhythm sticks is approximately 5 gingerbread people long.

Another activity we do with multiple themes are use our mini accents that has been purchased from www.trendenterprises.com.  I laminate mine for durability.  Here's a picture from our pumpkin theme, they were measuring themselves.  This particular time they also had a sheet with blackline pumpkins along the one side with the same numbers and they drew themselves starting at how tall they were at the wall and working down to the number 1 pumpkin.  Then they had a fill in the blank sentence that they used our number stamps with "I am _____ pumpkins tall!"

Using inch worms that are actually an inch long works nicely to introduce actual rulers. You can put 12 inch worms along a ruler to show 12 inches.  I just google an image and make it an inch in my Print Shop, copy and paste a bunch, print on cardstock, laminate and cut out. Here is an example of one inch work you can find if you google it. He's a cute little bugger!

Another cute way to lead into actual rulers are to make nonstandard measurement rulers first by using craft sticks.  You can easily make it theme related by using foam shapes or stickers.  

The block is about 4 faces long.

I don't typically use yarn for measurement except for those circumference introductions (measuring around a pumpkin, for example) or if a child is interested in maps and scales and so on.  But here is an activity we did awhile back but plan to do here again soon.  You can get a lot out of this activity if you plan it just right.  :-)
Use a theme related object or have the children choose an object to measure.  Then cut off yarn strips that are longer, shorter, and approximately the same size.  Then together as a group sort them.  You can write the words with the children (teaching them print concepts), you can remind them about longer, shorter, and same by drawing corresponding lines under the words.  You can arrange it so that when you are done you can review, long-longer-longest, short-shorter-shortest, and equal.)  Also, one skill I look for is the ability for the children to look at a set of three and tell me that there are three there without counting them...so that is why I chose 3 yarn lengths for each category.  :-) 

Well, measurement is beyond just length, height and width but that is what we focus on the most.  We do cooking activities on occasion. Wanted to do a weekly one but it just doesn't seem like there is enough time in the days!  Weight and capacity is often through sensory exploration and as time goes on you'll know when to keep quiet and when you can slip in a question or statement to help scaffold their learning.  At the preschool level, time pretty much is about yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  When we do things (day/night), the order of the schedule-"We'll eat after centers." "Mom will be here after nap." and so on.  Money can be introduced but remember that Kindergarten teachers typically begin teaching about money and time the 2nd half of the year.  For example, Caleb is just now learning about money.  They really get into in 1st grade.  You can do simple coin recognition activities and do some counting with pennies (1s) and if you wish you can practice your skip counting (10s, 5s) with dimes and nickles.  in general, just have some plastic coins and money out for their dramatic play.  We also have a game called "ALLOWANCE" that is lovely for Aaron (7-8 years old) but Caleb does just fine with some help (5 years).  I do not recommend it for preschoolers.

As you can tell, I can go on and on but time doesn't allow.  So we'll let this be all for today! 

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