Math Background

Comparing Lengths, Weights, and Capacities: Tips and Tricks

  • Read or tell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Discuss the story, emphasizing the language of the story that focuses on ordering and comparing attributes of size and capacity.
  • Give pairs of children different nonstandard units to measure with, such as cubes and clips. Then give them objects to measure, such as sheets of paper, new pencils, or mittens. Have them measure each object with different units. After children measure, talk about why the measurements are different.
  • Play an “I Spy” type of game in your classroom. Give children cube trains made with 5 cubes, and ask them to find items in the classroom that are about the same length as the train. Have children record their findings with words or pictures. Then compare the results.
  • Have children make or collect manipulatives for measuring activities throughout the year. Cut straws, paper clips, pieces of yarn, and similar objects can be kept in containers or plastic bags for easy storage.
  • Have children integrate patterns with measurement. Provide strips of paper of different lengths, and ask some children to create patterns. Other children can describe the patterns, using long, long, short, long, long, short, for example.
  • Some children will be ready to measure larger objects, such as windows, tables, and desks. Provide pieces of yarn that are 12 inches long. Challenge children to explore how to use the yarn to measure larger objects.
  • Ask children to help you prepare a nature table for exploring the concept of weight. Collect different rocks, sticks, shells, and other objects and have children compare their weights by using a balance scale.
  • Some children may have difficulty using pictures to order by capacity. Continue to provide experiences with real objects for children.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade K