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15 Measurement Activities for Students

Written by: Tiffany Chambers

Did you know we measure things every day without realizing we do so?Whether we’re measuring how much sugar to add to a cake or figuring out how many more miles we can drive before our car needs an oil change, we’re constantly measuring things. Allowing your children and students to measure alongside you will prepare them for the real world.

We assembled a list of fun measurement activities for your kids right at home and in the classroom.  These activities require little in terms of set up material and are easy to get started. Here are 15 activities to get your kids interested in measurement.

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1. Measurement Exploration Center

Setting up a measurement exploration center isn’t terribly difficult. In fact, it’s rather simple. You can begin by gathering as many measurement tools as you can that may be lying around your home or classroom.

Materials you’ll need:

• One wooden yardstick
• A few wooden rulers
• One kitchen scale
• One tape measure
• The Inchimalsmath activity

You can also add crayons and sticky notes so that your students can write down their findings. Once your measurement exploration center is set up, don’t be surprised if your studentsbegin measuring everything in sight!

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1. Lego Measurement

Legos are great for introducing your students to the world of measurements. For one, children are familiar with legos, and two legos are far easier for a child to understand than a ruler or a similar measuring tool.

Materials you’ll need:

• Lego blocks
• Markers
• A sheet of paper
• Items to measure

To begin, create three columns labeled: Item, Prediction, and Result. Write down the item name in the appropriate column. You should also draw a picture of the item for children who aren’t quite old enough to read. Go through each item and ask for a prediction before performing the measurement. When it finally comes time to measure, stack the lego blocks until you reach the height of the object. Write the result, and you’re done!

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1. Estimating Circumference Using an Apple

In this particular activity, apples will be used to practice your child’s math skills of estimation and measurement. Measuring the circumference of an apple is yet another fun and easy process that takes no time at all to set up.

Materials you’ll need:

• An apple
• A ruler (for kids who know their numbers)
• Kid-friendly scissors
• Yarn or string

You can begin by placing the apple in front of your students. Let them hold the apple to ascertain its circumference. Encourage your students to cut the yarn to a length that they feel would properly wrap around the apple. This will require estimation on the part of the kids. At this point, the activity is completed!

To extend this activity:

• Use multiple apples of varying sizes, and have kids estimate the amount of string that they’ll need for each measurement.
• If you’re doing this activity in a classroom with many children, they should line their strings in order from shortest to longest.
• For the kids who are able, encourage the use of the ruler to measure the string.
• After determining whether they’re too long or too short, have your students cut a second string to try to get closer to the circumference of the apple.

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1. Frog Jump: Measurement and Motor Activity

Kids love frogs, right? Enter the frog jump activity! To play this game, begin by using painter’s tape to create a line on the floor and gather a cut out of a frog and measuring tape. Now, have your students stand at one of the lines and jump forward as far as they can! Now mark where they landed with the painters tape. Now use the measuring tape to measure how far your student jumped. It’s that simple!

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1. Measuring Perimeter with Candy

Kids can’t resist candy. Thus they won’t be able to resist this sweet activity! You can use any candy that you like, but Kisses work the best. Have your students surround the perimeter of an object with the candy of your choice and have them record their data. Try to do this with several objects (i.e., candles, jars, or whatever else you happen to have lying around the house). When your students are done, reward them with a delicious treat.

1. Measuring with Unifix Cubes

This activity is a very simple preschool math measuring game that’s designed for the whole family. To set this activity up, set out markers, large pieces of paper, and unifix cubes. Be mindful that small blocks or Legos work just fine. Have your student trace their hands, feet, and shoes. Starting at the bottom of the hand, foot, or shoe, have your students carefully line up unifix cubes until you get to the highest point. Once this is accomplished, count the amount of unifix cubes you’ve assembled and write it down! This is a great activity that will really get the kids involved in the process of measuring.

1. Measuring Distance with a Homemade Catapult

This activity involves measuring the distance of an item that has been launched by a homemade catapult (most certainly an activity designed for little boys no doubt).

Materials you’ll need:

• Seven large craft sticks
• A bottle cap
• A glue dot
• Rubber bands

Once you’ve assembled the catapult, prepare to fire your ammunition: candy hearts! Have measuring tape on standby for when you launch. When the candy lands, you’ll want to measure how far it traveled. Don’t be surprised if your kid forgets about measuring and starts gobbling up the candy hearts instead!

1. Measuring with Non-Standard Units

Measurements taken by anything but a ruler is considered a non-standard measurement. For this particular activity, you’ll want to make a “hand” measurement device (pretty much a hand-shaped paper cut out). Give your students a clipboard to record their measurements and let them measure anything and everything that they can find! Your students will use the fingers of the hand cut out to engage in measurements. This is an excellent exercise for teaching your students about measuring non-standard units.

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1. Measuring with Feet

This activity is based on the Dr. Seuss classic The Foot Book. As you might have guessed, this is a book about how many feet you meet! To begin, trace your student’s feet unto a piece of paper and label them “left” and “right”. Next, measure the length and width of the feet. You may need to help your student place the ruler in the right place (matching the zero mark on the ruler to the end of the foot). That’s it! You can also use non-standard measurements as well. Your students can use paper clips, pennies, blocks, or anything else they can get their hands on to engage in the measuring process.

1. Measuring with Magna-Tiles

Magna-Tiles can be used for a medley of activities, but today we’ll be using them specifically to measure some of your student’s favorite toys and books. It’s recommended that you encourage your students to get into the habit of writing data down, so provide them with a paper and a writing utensil. Soon enough you’ll find your students measuring their favorite toys by lining up the Magna tiles and counting them. Record the data, and you’re finished. This can be a fun activity for the entire class!

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1. Teach Measurement Using Yarn

Yarn can be a fantastic measuring tool, especially in the hands of a child! These measuring activities can be shared by preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders. For your first activity, cut five lengths of yarn in five different colors. Next, hand your students a piece of paper with colored bars. The job of the student is to line up and match the yarn to its corresponding color on the paper. You can then discuss which was longest, shortest, and so on.

The next activity involves measuring items around the room with yarn. You can point out toys, chairs, or even vents on the wall and prompt your students to measure it. Hopefully, your students will become engaged as they race about the room measuring anything and everything with their yarn!

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1. Measuring with Candy Hearts

This activity is sure to be a great hit with your students, especially if Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! In this activity, your students will be practicing their estimation skills.

What you’ll need:

•    Free printable(includes four valentine themed flowers of various sizes)

•    Candy hearts!

The point of the exercise is to have your students estimate how many candy hearts are needed to equal the full length of each flower. After the estimation has been made, the students will line up their candy hearts and see if their estimation was correct. This is a fun (and delicious) way to teach your students about measuring with nonstandard units and helps to flex their estimation skills!

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1. M&M Packing

The point of this activity is to determine how efficiently your students can pack M&Ms into a box or other container that you may have on hand. This is an easy project for your students.

What you’ll need for this project:

• One small rectangular box
• One bag of M&M (or another hard candy of your choice)
• One 100 ml graduated cylinder

This activity involves a three-step process: finding the volume of an M&M, arranging the M&Ms in order, and arranging the M&Ms randomly. You can ascertain the volume of the M&M by filling the 100-ml graduated cylinder with water until it reaches 80ml and then slowly begin dropping in one M&M at a time until the water level rises to 100ml. From that point, you can proceed to arrange the M&Ms in an orderly fashion. After recording your results, proceed to organize the M&Ms randomly. Record your findings and enjoy a snack with your students when you’re done.

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1. Repeating Galileo’s Experiment: Gravity and Acceleration

The point of this activity is to research and reinvent the experiments that Galileo performed when he first calculated acceleration due to gravity. The concept of this activity may be a bit harder for your students to fully understand, so keep that in mind as you engage in this project.

What you’ll need to get started:

• One ball
• One grooved ramp (smooth cardboard will work just fine)
• One stopwatch or water clock
• One measuring stick/tape measure

To begin, roll the ball down your makeshift ramp and determine the amount of time it took for the ball to reach the bottom. Do this over and over again from varying points on the ramp (halfway up, a quarter of the way up, etc.). Ensure that you record the results of each trial run. Record your results and discuss with your students. The concept of measuring gravity and acceleration may be a bit of a challenge for your students to grasp at first, but if you repeat the exercise enough times, they’ll begin to understand.

1. Bag Strength

The objective of this exercise is to determine the durability of a bag, such as a paper or plastic bag, and how much it increases in strength when multiple bags are introduced. This is an easy activity for the entire classroom. The concept is quite simple. Find a bag and fill it with enough items until it gives way and breaks.

What you’ll need:

• Lots of bags
• Uniform weights
• Scale

You can use any type of bag you wish for this activity, but plastic bags are cheap and easy to come by, so it's recommended you stick with plastic. Now, fill a solitary bag with enough items until it breaks. As you do this, you should suspend the bag from a preexisting hook or nail somewhere in the room. To save yourself time and energy you should also place the scale underneath the hanging bag. Make a note of where the bag broke. Did the bottom fail first? Perhaps it was the handle? Hopefully, once the bag gave way, the items that you placed within fell onto the scale (which is why you should fill your bags with something harmless like zip-lock bags filled with sand). Make a record of the weight that broke the bag and then rinse and repeat the process with at least three more solitary bags to obtain an average. Eventually, you can move on to double, triple, and even quadruple bagging. Compare the data and share it with your class. That’s it!