Before using conventional units of measure such as inches or feet, children use unconventional units of measure to organize the world around them. There are many ways to support this in the classroom and experimenting with various unconventional units of measurement can be so fun!
There’s lots of measurement and observation when using ramps. When children roll a ball down a ramp, whether they realize it or not, they are make unconventional measurements about how far something rolled and comparing it to the ball that has rolled before it. This is the perfect opportunity to support children in becoming aware of the measurement and comparison happening. The next step is supporting them in creating a system of measurement.
Almost any collection of materials in your classroom can be used as a system of measurement. We decided to create some of our own systems around Kodo Headquarters. Here are the fun and interesting ways we found to measure the distance the ball traveled.
Blocks are the perfect material for unconventional measurement and are readily available in most early childhood classrooms. Pair these with post its and invite the children to assign numbers to the blocks.
Use various shaped objects such a Tangrams, blocks, ect. To create a measurement system. Children will begin making a connection to the shapes and the ball’s traveled distance.
Colors are a visual cue to track how far the ball has traveled. We use small colored transparent blocks. And spaced them apart along the path of the ball.
Size is a wonderful tool to assign meaning to distance. We used small, medium, and large half-sphere blocks.