Inch by Inch


Measurement is one of the earliest mathematical concepts that your child can learn. See which toy is the biggest or which child is the tallest or how far your child can jump. Children love to use real tools such as tape measures and rulers. If you have a child who is too busy to sit still and "learn" numbers, don't worry! Teach your child about standard and non-standard units of measurement and let the measuring fun begin!

Gather Materials

  • Ruler
  • Tape Measure

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that you feel are safe for your child and that you are comfortable letting your child use.


Hands-on investigations with a ruler or a measuring tape will help your child learn about units of measurement such as inches and feet and help lay the foundation for reasoning, logic and critical-thinking skills.

Exposure to these early experiences will enable children to see math at work in their everyday lives. You can also introduce non-standard units of measurement such as blocks, your feet and pencils.

Try some of these measuring activities to lay the foundation for later math learning:

  • Introduce a small, retractable tape measure and a ruler to add a whole new dimension of mathematical play to your child's block area.
  • Designate a place in your home where you can regularly measure and mark your child’s height.
  • Expand your child's vocabulary by using words such as big, medium and small, as well as comparative terms such as bigger and smaller, longer and shorter and heavier and lighter.
  • Ask your child to measure household objects such as a chair, a rug or a book.
  • Ask your child to compare measurements. Ask questions such as: "Which is wider, the door or the window?"
  • Have your child compare objects by size (big, bigger, biggest) and line up objects by size from smallest to largest.

Measuring is a part of the kindergarten curriculum. Measuring with non-standard units means measuring things with objects such as blocks, pencils, your feet, etc. (as long as the objects that you are using to measure are the same size). Measuring with standard units means measuring with recognized units of measurement such as inches, feet, yards, centimeters, etc.

Exploring different types of measurement is a fun way to engage young learners. It's all about being creative. Break out the blocks and see how many blocks long the couch is. Is that same couch 27 cars long? Now try the measuring tape. Is the couch six feet long? Your child will be a kindergarten-ready measurer in no time!

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