The value of measuring

        We just did a unit on measurement in our classroom. The kids had a ball measuring everything in the room. It was fun to watch their enthusiasm.

        We started by using non-traditional ways to measure: finding out how many paper clips long the tops of the table was, or how many blocks long a book was, or how many crayons it took to go from one wall to another.

        This is the type of activity that can easily be done around the house and supervised by parents. In the beginning, donít worry about units such as inches or meters; just let the kids use what you have on hand.

        In the process, you will also help your child to understand concepts of comparisons. Children can begin to comprehend, with your help, the meaning of more, less, and equal when they compare two items or quantities.

        The kitchen is a natural place for working on measuring together. Starting with pre-schoolers, use the assortment of cups and spoons that you have on hand. Itís a way to familiarize children with these objects.

        The most common items to be measured will probably be flour and water. By all means, use the terminology of measurement as a way to familiarize the children with it: cup, pint, liter, quart, teaspoon, tablespoon, gallon. This will begin the understanding of these concepts for the children.

        Asking for two cups of flour or three tablespoons of oil will involve the child in preparing food for the family, giving a sense of contribution in addition to concrete knowledge about measuring.

        Another possible by-product of doing this work together can be the understanding of the concept that the role of the cook is not sex-specific: boys can do it as well as girls.

        You also have an opportunity to use basic addition and subtraction skills by asking such questions as, "We have four cups of flour in the bowl. When we add two more, how many will we have all together?"

        Parents who spend the time to work on these skills at home with their children will be sending the kids to school with an enhanced understanding of the process.

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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