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Math & Measuring Tools for Preschool Children

by Erica Loop

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, preschoolers are developing the math skills to understand the basics of measurement, such as comparing objects by length or size. While a ruler or tape measure are standard when it comes to making measurements, you can also introduce your little learner to an array of more imaginative mathematical measuring tools that will help her to compare and contrast different sizes, weights and volume.

Length and Distance

Whether your preschooler wants to measure her own foot or the length of the living room, there are a variety of measuring tools that she can use. The most obvious tools are rulers and tape measures. Other, more creative tools, include homemade items that help your child to make comparisons between lengths in a more everyday way. For example, your child can use his feet to measure distance; walking toe to heel, he can count how many of his feet it takes to get across a room. Other homemade measurement tools include cardboard tubes or a thick ribbon on which he makes hash marks to show the lengths of objects.

Weight

An easy way for your preschooler to learn about the concept of weight is by using the bathroom scale. Another measurement tool that will help your child gauge and compare weights is a small balance type scale, with two sides, cups or small shelves, allowing your child to compare the weights of two different objects. Kids who want to measure weight without a scale can use water as their measuring tool; a simple sink or float experiment with differently weighted objects can be performed in a tub of water.

Volume

Preschoolers are beginning to understand the basics of volume concepts. According to PBS Parents, around age 4 preschoolers will typically explore different volumes of solids and liquids by looking at how they fit into different containers. While your young preschooler may still think that the same amount of liquid in a taller cup has a larger volume than in a smaller cup, he can start to explore and experiment with this concept. Use measuring cups with bold numbers to give your preschooler a concrete way to compare volumes or pour different amounts of colorful liquids into different cups that are all the same size.

Time

Preschoolers are just learning the basics of time and may have a simplified version that only includes before and after. As your child moves closer to kindergarten, she can also understand the days of the week and months. A picture chart that features images of a daily schedule can help your child to measure time in a basic way. Older preschoolers can try out a digital watch to measure the time of day. To measure longer time concepts, you can display a calendar prominently and have your child mark off each day.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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