One of the keys to making math fun and meaningful for kids is to provide a lot of hands-on exploration. Here’s one of our favorite math activities for preschoolers that does just that, a simple measurement exploration center- perfect for encouraging all kinds of hands-on learning with various measurement tools!
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My preschooler has been showing quite a bit of interest in numbers and measuring lately. He loves getting on the bathroom scale and asking me “how much he costs today” (too cute!), and I often see him with his dad’s tape measure measuring things all around the house.
I decided to build on his interest in measurement by setting up a simple measurement exploration center in our home. It’s been such a fun experience watching him explore all the measurement tools on his own and with his sister, and it’s also provided many learning opportunities for us to experience together! (This post contains affiliate links.)
How to Set Up a Measurement Exploration Center
Setting up a measurement exploration center is super simple. Start by collecting various measurement tools from around your house or classroom and placing them all in one place where they are easily accessible. Our measurement center includes: a few wooden rulers, a wooden yardstick, a tape measure, a kitchen scale, and our Inchimals math activity (which is awesome on its own by the way)! I also added some sticky notes and crayons too. The kids love to use them to record ideas and findings.
Using a Measurement Exploration Center
Theo was absolutely thrilled to come home from preschool and find our measurement center waiting for him! He was quite content exploring it all on his own and later with Lucy once she got home from school.
He started by exploring the kitchen scale. He weighed toy cars, books, and anything else he could think of.
He obviously couldn’t read the scale properly yet, but with this activity he gained experience in comparing the weight of objects. He realized certain items were heavier than others and made the arrow on the scale go further. (Later in the week the kids made it a mission to find things that would make the arrow go completely around the scale.)
As the week went on, I’d often find one or both kids using different measurement tools around the house. Sometimes they were content on their own, and sometimes when a learning opportunity presented itself, I’d jump in and do the activity with them.
One day I found Theo using the tape measure to measure books in our family room. I showed him how to make sure the edge of the book was lined right up with the start of the tape measure. We measured all kinds of books together, and Theo loved discovering which numbers the books would go up to on the tape measure!
Some mornings Theo would wake up and immediately get to measuring. He used the yardstick to see if he could find things around the house that were taller than the yardstick.
He also discovered he could put two rulers together to compare the different heights of objects.
Our Inchimals came into play often during the week. Theo enjoyed lining them up both vertically and flat on the floor to compare the lengths of the pieces.
I also found him lining them up along the yardstick!
When the kids would play with the measurement tools together, I’d often find Lucy writing on the sticky notes. She told me she was working on a measurement book!
And sometimes when I walked into the family room, I’d find things like this. It must have taken a lot of patience to stack all the Inchimals onto the scale- LOL!
Our measurement exploration center has been out an entire week now, and it’s still being used in so many ways. I’m thinking of turning it into a dramatic play center later in the week- maybe a farmer’s market stand or grocery store!