When our kids are ready to be hardcore #adulting, they may not need the Pythagorean Theorum to make it through the day … but they are going to need to understand measurements. Granted, there’s an app for that, and there will likely be a better app for it in fifteen years, but let’s not let the robots completely take over just yet!
As a former teacher, I cannot help but find opportunities for authentic learning in everyday life. So far, my kids haven’t noticed. (But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.) When it comes to fostering early numeracy skills, it’s all about measuring! DK’s How to Measure Everything and Visual Guide to Math reminded me of all the ways we measure every single day and how I can teach my kids all about measurement using our daily activities.
What’s Cooler Than Being Cool?
Have kids make predictions based on the temperature
Listen to the weather forecast, go old school by finding it in the newspaper (remember those?) or check the app on your phone for the day’s highs and lows. Should we pack snow pants for recess? Long sleeves or short sleeves? Have your kids make predictions based on the current temperature before you head out the door: Will they be able to see their breath in the air? Will there be puddles of water or sheets of ice? Will mommy start swearing because she has to scrape the windshield?
The great thing about living in Alberta is that we can experience a huge variety of temperatures over the course of just a few days! (See how I can put a positive spin on pretty much anything?)
Days of Their Lives
Have kids count the days, weeks or months to a special event
It is fascinating to watch children’s understanding of time develop … over time.
My three-year-old will cry that she wants to go to daycare (she only goes once a week), but I can appease her by saying she’ll be going again soon. My six-year-old needs a great deal more precision. “How many sleeps?” is a common way that he measures the days until something fun. We have a big calendar on our fridge, and I use it to help him understand the concept of days, months and years. He knows one page of the calendar represents a month, and while he learns the names of the days and months in French at school, we’re working on the English at home.
Gotta Measure Them All!
Compare the height and weight of family members to other creatures, real or imaginary
While looking at my son’s growing collection of Pokémon cards—and trying not to see them as money thrown out the window—I realized that we could learn a thing or two from the seemingly useless stats that appear on every card. (Side note: Whose job is it to decide the height and weight of every Pokémon, and what is their methodology?) Now when we look at Pokémon cards, we can compare the heights and weights of these fictional creatures to our own. Fun fact: Electrode weighs as much as Mommy!
Bake it Like a Polaroid Picture
Let kids use the measuring cups and spoons
My kids love to help me bake by fighting over who gets to hold the mixing spoon and who gets to dump in the flour. And while I sprout a new white hair every time I shout, “You’ll get your turn next!”, I try to remember that my kids are gaining an understanding of volume, not to mention good old fractions!
Tick-Tick-Ticking Time Away
Let kids set a timer for various activities
Do you know how long two minutes is? When you’re brushing your kid’s teeth, it’s an eternity. When Cub is getting his pyjamas on by himself (a process that could drag on for half an hour if I let it), I’m told that two minutes on the clock is not nearly enough time.
We use a timer at our house to speed things up, like trying to beat the clock while cleaning up our toys, or to slow things down, like focusing on homework for fifteen minutes before screen time.
If your primary-school-aged kids are fascinated by all the different things to measure, or if you want to pique their curiosity, check out DK’s How to Measure Everything and Visual Guide to Math! Math is all around us, and the myriad ways in which measurements play a part in our daily lives are almost … immeasurable!