My kids are very technical. When I asked them if they’d like to measure distances of objects around the yard, they immediately ran to get their [okay, its really Dad's] tape measure.
Instead of using the tape measure, we tried nonstandard measuring units—steps, hops or jumps to determine the distance from object A to objects B.
To Measure How Many Steps:
This is a great activity and one of my favorite kinds, because you don’t need anything to do it—just kids that are ready to get a little silly and have fun counting. My oldest is six years old, he can count as far as it takes. My middle child is three years old and can only count to ten and one to one correspondence is still a little tricky for him, so he needed some guidance for this activity.
I asked the kids to measure how many steps it took to get from one tree to another. My oldest began walking, with as big as steps as he could take, counting as he went. Then my preschooler followed behind him, looking to me for some help in counting, but nevertheless counting the steps.
We counted steps in a few places around the yard and on our porch: How long is the sidewalk? How many steps does it take to walk from one side of the porch to the other?
Get silly with measuring!
And then we shook it up a little and this is when we got silly.
How many steps does it take for you to run from that tree to the other? Was that more or less than it took you when you took big steps? They may have reached the other tree faster, but it actually took many more steps running than just walking with big steps.
How about hopping? How many hops does it take?
Or walking backwards?
We tried skipping… but counting skips is rather difficult!
This was a fun activity to get them moving, counting, and learning about nonstandard measurement.