Young children learn measurement initially by sorting objects by size. For this particular activity, we practiced sorting and measuring the length of toy sharks. Measurement can be a tricky concept for preschoolers to grasp, so experimenting with real objects assists them in the understanding of complex measurement concepts.
When relaying concepts of measurement, it’s best for your budding scientists to stay concrete because that’s how preschoolers think at this stage of their development. A preschooler would have a tough time learning the ropes of measuring skills using a regular ruler. They don’t have much of a handle on any abstract skills yet, and measurement falls in that abstract area. Still, the basics of measurement can be taught at the preschool level with great effectiveness by using very basic measuring methods.
The sorting activity helps develop a sense of the awareness that every day objects have a certain length. This length can be determined by “measuring” the object in comparison to other objects. Even though “inches” or “centimeters” are much too abstract for a preschooler’s grasp, the concept of comparing lengths of items is more concrete and can be a great way to introduce measurement.
The acquisition of measurement concepts also includes new vocabulary. Throughout the activity, your little one was encouraged to use words such as longer, smaller, heavier, lighter, and variations of the terms such as large, larger, and largest.