Math Helping Your Five-Year-Old Understand Measurement and Data

The world is filled with ways to measure: length, height, weight, capacity, money, temperature and time…to name just a few. At age five, children are often ready to move beyond basic ideas of measurement ("this block tower is taller than this one") and begin making measurements using numbers ("the table is as tall as eight pencils"). Measurement and data collection are important in science, art, cooking, sports and engineering — so there are plenty of ways to help your child learn at home!

Learning measurement through play:

Play "Store"

At this age, your child will be ready to start exploring the value of money. Start with pennies and nickels. Explain that you could exchange five pennies for one nickel. Then set up a pretend store in your kitchen and start labeling things with how much they cost, like three cents for spaghetti or six cents for a can of soup. Let him go "shopping" with a lot of nickels and pennies and try to pay you correctly for each item. 

Piggy Bank Saving

Creating a piggy bank and counting money can help your child better understand the concept of saving.

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Measuring Temperature

Talk about hot and cold weather with your child. Discuss what kinds of clothing you wear and what kinds of activities you do in each weather condition. If you have an outdoor thermometer, explain how to read it. Have your child check the temperature at different times of day and different times of the year. Compare the temperature inside (using your thermostat) versus the temperature outside. Add some geography to the mix: use weather apps to compare temperatures in different parts of the world.

Weather Wheel

What will the weather be today? Your child can spin a weather wheel with Sid's friend Gerald, and then pick out the best outfit for Gerald to wear based on the weather selected.

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Guessing Game: Nonstandard Units of Measurement

A great way to explore length and height is through nonstandard units of measurement. You can do this with any basic object that comes in a consistent size, such as drinking straws, paper clips, Popsicle sticks, Lego blocks or even gummy worms! Go around your home measuring how long or tall things are using one of these "units of measurement." For example, a chair might be eight straws tall, or 40 paper clips tall. Take notes. After they get the hang of it, see if they can make predictions before measuring.

Exploring Measurement

In this activity idea, your child can practice measurement and comparison skills by going on a "length hunt" around the house.

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Explore Math Through Nature

At the park or during a nature walk, let children collect items that catch their attention, such as twigs, pebbles and leaves. Then sort them into piles by type, counting together as you do. Be sure to explain which objects should be left alone, such as poisonous plants and small animals or insects.

Monkey Made

In this math and engineering activity, your child can explore how some objects are found naturally and some are people made and how each can be large or small.

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Create a Growth Chart

Children love to see how tall they've grown. Mark your child's height on a wall or growth chart. Repeat this every few months and note how much taller they are. Compare their height to the height of siblings or other family members. 

Even Bigger Than a T.Rex!

Using cones and non-standard measurement tools, your child can plot the length of a T. rex and an Argentinosaurus. They were really big!

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Help Your Child Learn to Love Math with Peg + Cat

Through engaging stories and comedy, Peg + Cat encourages your child to see math as exciting, accessible, and fun. The show teaches measurement, shapes and patterns, and problem-solving skills that children can use in their everyday lives.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Five-Year-Old

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