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Science Kids on the Loose

Exploring Measurement

Instead of inches or feet, we'll use a child to measure a room.

Download this activity (pdf)


  • One child volunteer
  • A block or something similar to mark each unit
  • Pieces of paper large enough to trace children (optional)
  • A marker and crayons (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)


  1. You’re going to use a child to measure a room. Have the child lay down with his or her feet touching the wall at one end of the room. Place a block to mark where the head is.
  2. Time to get up and move. Lay down with the feet lined up with the block. Now move the block to the head again. That’s two kids long so far!
  3. Repeat the procedure until you’ve reached the end of the room. Be sure to keep track of how many “kids” (or Sara’s or Edwin’s or whatever the child’s name is) you’ve measured each time the child moves. How many kids long is the room?
  4. If you’d like to make kid rulers, have children lie down on the paper and trace their outlines. Cut out and decorate the kid rulers.
  5. Use it just like you did to measure other big things around you like the patio, the playground, or the hallway.

Talk About It

  • When you do this exploration with children, you will naturally use comparative mathematical language such as longer and shorter. Encourage them to use these terms, too.
  • As kids have repeated experience measuring with the same ruler (whether it's a kid ruler or a regular one), they begin to build a sense of about how long something is before they measure it. Help them develop this kind of thinking by asking them to estimate how long something is before they measure it. Then check their estimates by measuring.

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Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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