Measurement is a skill that is formally introduced to students around age 5. Children who have encountered traditional Montessori early childhood materials would have been introduced to sensorial equipment which gives indirect preparation to measurement, for example think of the measurement work a child learns in the knobless cylinders. There are ideas around weight, width, and height.
As students grow and mature, they begin to understand how measurement works, discuss it, and interact with it using measuring tools and equations.
When learning measurement, or any maths topic, it is virtual for students to learn the vocabulary associated with it. It turns out that young children’s maths learning is highly interlinked with their language acquisition. So, when learning measurement concepts at an early age, vocabulary is a key component to helping students understand what it is they’re measuring. For example, which object is longer or heavier, far or near? Understanding the relationship between vocabulary and math concepts is necessary for helping students build strong connections.
What are the key ideas about measurement that children aged 6-9 need to know about?
Children Aged 5-7
When learning about measurement in its most basic form, children aged 5-7 are simply learning to understand how measurement works with the objects around them. They aren’t even necessarily measuring. Instead, they’re observing with an emphasis on vocabulary words.
Children Aged 7-9
During this point of development, students begin to measure different objects using non-standard units of measure, such as cups, hands, and paces. It is important to note though that as students move through this step in the learning process, they will begin to realize that these units of measurement are unreliable. Paces and hands can be different sizes depending upon who is measuring. Students also are exposed to basic measuring tools like rulers. They are able to measure the length of something by lining a ruler up to it.
Children Aged 9-11
At this age, students begin to understand how scales, rulers, and other types of measurement tools function. As this post focuses on children aged 6-9, most students will only be beginning this phase during their time in the classroom.
Why do they need to know these things?
It’s important for homeschoolers and teachers to prioritise teaching about measurement because it can be integrated into all parts of learning. As parents are teaching their students numbers up to 100, parents can integrate measurement into those lessons. For example, a parent could say that an object that is 100g is heavier than an object that is 23g.
Having children learn and understand measurement is also necessary for their success in life as adults. Later in life, students will undoubtedly need to measure a window for curtains, follow a schedule of events, determine what to wear based on the temperature, measure for an area rug, or even give correct change when paying for a purchase. Opportunities to use measurement in real life are all around us, which is why students need to gain their footing about how it works as soon as possible.
The Learning Progression of Measurement
Length and Height
- Level 1: As students first begin learning length and height, they simply look at objects side by side to determine which object is longer or taller. Students use words such as longer, taller, and shorter to describe measurement at this stage.
- Level 2: Students begin to measure using units of measure and measurement tools such as rulers. Students also use units of measure such as hands and paces to help them measure.
- Level 3: Now that students know how to measure using units, it’s time for them to understand how different units of measure work together. For example, how many kilometres is in a metre?
- Level 1: At a young age, students tell time using the events that usually occur at any point during the day. Some of these events include breakfast time, lunch time, and dinner time, before and after school, and day and night.
- Level 2: Now students begin comparing how long it took to complete different events. Time words used include faster, slower, fastest, and slowest. Students also use analog and digital clocks to tell time.
- Level 3: Students use clocks to tell hours, minutes, and seconds, and are also able to understand schedules and timetables.
- Level 1: There is a big emphasis on describing temperature using basic words such as hot, cold, freezing, boiling, warm, hotter, etc. Students use this language to compare the temperature of objects and the weather.
- Level 2: What temperature is freezing? What temperature is boiling? What is considered hot or cold? Students use actual measurements when determining the temperature.
- Level 3: Students begin to use their knowledge of temperature to solve word problems and scenarios using temperature. They also are able to understand distinguish between fahrenheit and celsius.
Volume and Capacity
- Level 1: To practice volume and capacity, students compare objects using words such as full, empty, enough, and too much to determine how much liquid is inside a container.
- Level 2: Students are able to use measurements and estimations to compare objects. For example, the bowl contains about three cups.
- Level 3: Now that students are familiar with measurements, they are able to solve using length x width x height to determine the volume of a container.
- Level 1: Students compare the area of shapes by looking at them. When two rectangles are together, which one is bigger? This one has a larger area. Students also use tiles to help determine area. How many tiles make up the floor?
- Level 2: Students count and measure figures to determine the area. Students can either measure using metres or count the number of squares a shape has to help them solve.
- Level 3: Now that students can find the area using measurement, can they find it using half-units? Not all shapes are a perfect square or rectangle. Some have shapes that cannot be so easily counted. Students begin to understand how to find the area in these situations.
- Level 1: Students are exposed to money. How much are bills worth versus coins? How do values compare with different types of coins?
- Level 2: When combining different coins and notes/bills, students are able to determine the sum. How much are 5 of a certain note worth?
If you’re looking to understand more about the way in which students learn measurement, I’ve created this Scope and Sequence document to help guide both Montessori teachers and homeschool parents.
You may also find my montessori inspired measurement maths resources useful.They all come with full instructions.
Interested in maths posts?