Math Helping Your Three-Year-Old Understand Measurement and Sorting

The world is filled with ways to measure: length, height, weight, capacity, money, temperature and time…to name just a few! Your child's understanding of measurement begins with vocabulary development at age three. You can help by using mathematical terms to describe amounts and sizes — for example, saying "tall" or "long" instead of "big." Simple measuring and sorting activities lay the groundwork for later learning and are easy to incorporate into your daily routines. Don't be surprised if soon your child wants to measure everything around them!

Easy ways to talk about measurement:

Sort Laundry

Believe it or not, your child is not too young to help out with some chores around the house! Incorporate a little math learning while sorting laundry. You can start by having him match up socks or put all the towels in one pile. When he’s ready, have him help you by naming which article of clothing belongs to whom. All of this involves the important skills of classification and sorting.

Sorting and Counting With Blocks

Your child can develop memory and early math skills by sorting blocks by different attributes such as shape, size or color.

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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. 

PBS KIDS Measure Up!

Measurement skills are reinforced in this app that includes numerous videos, challenges, and problem solving games featuring favorite PBS KIDS characters from Dinosaur Train, Peg + Cat, and Sid the Science Kid.

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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.

Make Leaf Observations on an Autumn Nature Walk

Collecting leaves in the fall can be fun. In this fall leaf activity, your child can practice sorting and classifying leaves based on their attributes.

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Talk About Morning, Afternoon and Night

Your child is just starting to get a sense of measuring time. Discuss what kinds of activities you do during these times. Have them help you make a picture chart of morning and bedtime routines. Having the pictures to refer to might even make bedtime go a little bit easier once they understand that it will start all over again tomorrow!

Daniel Tiger's Day & Night

Daniel Tiger is learning about morning and bedtime routines! In this app, your child can play and practice brushing teeth, listening to a story and song, getting dressed and eating breakfast with Daniel.

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Practice Measuring and Capacity at Bath Time

Bring different-size plastic cups or containers into the bathtub to experiment with capacity. Discuss which container holds the most water and which holds the least. Use the smallest container to count how many times you need to dump water into the larger container to fill it up.


In this game, your child will learn to sort by size and capacity to get the farm animals nice and clean for a picture!

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Help Your Child Learn to Love Math with Curious George

Curious George is a little monkey who wants to explore and discover new things. Like George, children are always learning! And his interactions with patterns, measurements, and shapes can help your child begin to see math in the world around them.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Three-Year-Old

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