We teach young children measurement because this helps them begin making connections between spatial concepts and number.
We begin to work with measurement by developing an understanding of longer vs. shorter objects and comparing the length of various objects.
When a child can put a set of objects in order from shortest to tallest, or tallest to shortest, he is ready to begin learning how to measure things using nonstandard units.
We use nonstandard units like paperclips, markers, or rods when we begin teaching measurement rather than standard units of measurement, like inches or feet. This helps children develop a concept of measurement and counting units while eliminating "tick counting errors".
A "tick counting error" is when a child is counting tick marks on a ruler and begins by counting at the first mark, zero. When using nonstandard units, such as rods, there are no tick marks and the student learns that the unit is the length of one rod.
The students must learn accurate alignment in order to correctly measure with nonstandard or standard units.
These skills develop over extended periods of time, through exposure to many different experiences.
In this blog entry we deal only with measuring the length of objects, but children also need plenty of opportunities to measure weight and volume.
Wendy Joy Yohman
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