Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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Measurement & STEM Activities for Kids in Preschool

Measurement and STEM activities are as easy to integrate into your preschoolers' day as breakfast!

Measurement is a huge category of math learning (the "M" in STEM stands for "mathematics"). Before we get started, though, let's establish what kind of measurement goals we have for our preschoolers.

Goals for Preschool Measurement:

* recognizing and labeling bigger/smaller, longer/shorter, heavier/lighter
* recognizing and labeling small, medium, and large
* counting and recognizing numbers
* using non-standard measuring tools (for example, six markers tall or five trucks long)
* identifying when one object does/does not fit inside another object

Like many academic goals in preschool, measurement skills can easily be learned during play time.   In this article I'm going to share how to integrate measurement as part of STEM learning for preschoolers in two ways: 1- during playtime and 2- during organized activities or lessons.

Measurement & STEM Activities During Playtime

Without doubt, the best way to "teach" anything to young children is to play with them. When they ask you to "play ponies" or "play cars" say, "YES!" Get down on the floor, grab your little action figures, a pile of toy blocks, and help them create a universe where measuring and scientific thinking are part of the norm. Find things to measure and compare, solve problems and make hypotheses (scientific reasoning), build and create (engineering), and use tools (technology).  Here are a few ideas...hopefully they will help you think of ways that are natural and fun for you and your kiddos:

1- Build a secret magical cavern under a waterfall for your fairies to hang out in! Measure how many fairies high it is (ie. how many fairies can stack on top of each other to equal the height). Of course, it needs to be at least two fairies tall so that the fairies' magical echo can work!

2- Build a race track that is at least ten times as long as a car length! Count them while you measure and time how long it takes them to go around the track. Measure it with a tape measure and count all the numbers you can see.

3- Build a dinosaur land with a volcano-safe hideout that can fit 6 dinosaurs during a volcano eruption! Host a dinosaur party that gets interrupted by a volcano eruption!

4- Put a fabric tape measure, a ruler, and a balance scale out on a shelf near the toys so your preschoolers can grab them during free play!

After you play a few games like this with your kiddos, you will start seeing them add in these elements into their own games -- even when you're not playing!

Measurement & STEM Activities for a Lesson

There are lots of activities that integrate measurement as the mathematics component of a STEM project. Just think about your current theme and find something to measure, compare, or weigh.  Add in an engineering component (some kind of building, designing, or creating), a science component (problem solving), and some tools (technology), and you have a complete STEM lesson!

Here are a few fun ideas to get you started:

1- Measure and count "penguin" feathers with this fun STEM activity!

2- Go outside, let everyone find a cool rock, weigh them on a balance scale, line them up from biggest to smallest, and then try any of these rock activities!

3- Use whatever holiday is nearest and measure your preschoolers with a holiday themed measuring tool (like these pumpkins in the fall)! Think stuffed polar bears or penguins in the winter, hearts or leprechaun hats in February and March, and flowers or umbrellas in the spring! Loads of possibilities here!

4- Go on a Stick Hunt and look for sticks the same length as your arm, foot, and body! Use those sticks to build a bridge, dinosaur nest, or art work! You could even create a land art project for others!

5- Count straws when you make straw necklaces, pretzels when you snack, seconds when you play Hide-n-Seek, and blocks when you build. Always count!

6- HERE is a collection of preschool lessons just focusing on sizes and measurement!

My kids wake up hungry for breakfast every day...and they also wake up hungry for learning! Popping STEM activities (including fun measurement-focused projects and play) into their day makes them just as happy as fresh fruit in the morning!

Are you looking for more preschool math activities? You might enjoy this nuts and bolts game or these adorable number line penguins!

And if you're looking for more STEM for preschoolers, check out the following:

(coming soon now available: STEM Activities for Kids (including preschoolers!) Collection!!)

And finally, this post is part of a huge introduction to STEM and STEAM at Little Bins for Little Hands! Be sure to click on over and check out the other posts!

Happy Educating,

I may share at any of these parties!

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