TOPIC AND LEVEL: Counting: Advanced; Order: Intermediate, Advanced; Geometry: Basic, Intermediate, Advanced
PLAY WITH: All Games
EQUIPMENT: Centimeter Tape Measure
  • Choose an item.
  • Estimate its length.
  • Measure the item.
  • Have the child record the guesses and actual lengths.

      "How long is my table, Denise?" asks almost five year old Rosa.

      Denise, the babysitter, has been doing her trigonometry but gets up to read Rosa's brand new tape measure which Rosa holds across her doll's table.

      "It's forty-three centimeters long, Rosa. How tall do you think you are?" asks the Adult, taking the tape measure from the Child's hands.

      The Child: "I'm four".

      The Adult: "No. That's how old you are. This will tells us how big, how tall you are."

      The Child: "Oh."

      The Adult measures and announces, "You're almost ninety centimeters tall. See here's the number ninety on your tape measure."

      The Adult shifts the tape to measure the height of the kitchen table and asks the Child, "Can you read the number at end of the tape now?"

      The Child looks and asks, "Seventy-five?"

      The Adult: "Yes. Good. That means the table is seventy-five centimeters high. Try measuring this," and holds the tape to measure the distance from the floor to the seat of the kitchen chair.

      The Child reads the tape and reports, "Forty-eight centneeders".

      The Adult: "Good, forty-eight centimeters."

      With this much measuring background and experience in COUNTING TILL YOU GET THERE and FORWARD-BACKWARD, a child is ready to guess length and measure-- to play the MEASURING TAPE GAME.

      I strongly recommend the centimeter as the basic unit of measure because rounding to the nearest centimeter or half centimeter is accurate enough for a child's use. It's a real unit of measure (not like the length of a paper clip--a unit used by some textbook companies). A tape measure will have 100 centimeters on the tape before any sort of unit change--the same numbers the child has been using in other games. Customary rulers may be quite confusing.

      I also suggest using a tape measure with a little metal right angle at the zero end. It makes measuring much easier.

      The two important features of this game are measuring and estimating length. Emphasis and importance for the child shifts from the measuring to the estimating as the child gets older and more experienced with the game.

      When you do play, guess then measure things of similar lengths so that one measurement will help in estimating the next measurement.

      The measurement aspect has been illustrated above. Now, let's look at the estimation.

      The Adult: "I'll guess 25 centimeters"

      The Child measures her toy car and announces, "About twenty-seven and a half centimeters."

      The Adult: "Your turn to guess three things. How about those books over there?"

      The Child: "O.K. I think this one's about thirty-nine centimeters," and measures the red book, announcing, "forty-two centimeters. Now I'll do this dictionary," indicating a slightly longer book. "I guess it's forty-five centimeters."

      The Adult: "I'd say forty-seven centimeters. It looks longer to me."

      The Child measures the dictionary and announces, "Forty-six centimeters. We were both close that time."

      "This time I guess thirty-seven centimeters," indicating the smallest book.

      The Adult: "Sounds good, Rosa".

      The Child measures and announces, "Oh. A tiny bit more than thirty-seven."

      The Child has done the measuring as well as some guessing and with the tape measure in hand has been the authority. This has been a good experience socially as well as mathematically.

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