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Main Curriculum Tie:
Background For Teachers:
Definition: Nonstandard units of measure are objects such as connecting cubes, paper clips, or toothpicks, that have the same size but are not typically used to find length.
Not only are measurement problems common in daily human affairs and therefore, competence in measuring immediately practical, but measurement can be made the instructional basis for most of the mathematical concepts we need.
The concept of using units to measure length will be explored in these activities. We will use nonstandard units of measure, familiar to children, to avoid formalities that are inappropriate for Kindergarten students. As the students use units to measure length or distance, they should be taught to: place the first unit at the end of the object, have each unit touch the unit that is placed before it, and describe the length of the object to the nearest unit. Children should be encouraged to estimate before they measure objects or distance.
Another concept that children need to take into account is the notion that the total length of a path is the sum of the individual units that compose it. They learn from this to assign number to length. The children will be exploring this concept as they count the individual units used to measure distance and record their findings.
Finally, when children make the transition from non-standard measurements to using a ruler to measure standard units, teachers can develop concepts and procedures such as accurate alignment, starting at zero, and focusing on the lengths of the units rather than only the numbers on the ruler. Using manipulable units to make their own rulers helps students connect their experiences and ideas. Therefore, in this activity, children will learn to align ladybug rulers, bead counters, and single non-standard units (ladybug lima beans) at the beginning and ending points, and focus on the length of the object according to units rather than only numbers.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
5. Understand and use basic concepts and skills.
6. Communicate clearly in oral, artistic, written, and nonverbal form.
Gather students in a large group appropriate for listening to the story Ladybug on the Move by Richard Fowler. The book is designed to be interactive and involves the adventures of a ladybug as she travels in search of a new home. Unfortunately, every place she finds is already occupied. A manipulable ladybug moves from page to page throughout the story to engage student interest.
The book provides a great opportunity for measuring short increments of distance on each page.
Lima Bean Ladybugs
Instructions for making Lima Bean Ladybugs
Hiebert, J. (1984). Why do some children have trouble learning measurement concepts? Arithmetic Teacher, 31 (7), 19-24.
In this study, researchers found that even though children do not yet conserve or reason transitively on standard Piagetian tasks, they still benefit from concrete measuring activities. It was also determined that children in both control and experimental groups experienced some common difficulties and showed some basic misconceptions.
Clements, D.H., (1999). Teaching length measurement: Research challenges. School Science and Mathematics, 99,(1), 5-11.
Researchers have found that standard units need to be utilized simultaneously with non-standard units as young children are learning measurement skills. Teaching young children to measure with only non-standard units does not necessarily lead to competence in measuring skills.
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