Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

How Many Legos Tall?

Children will use a non-standard unit of measurement, such as Legos, to measure objects in their environment.

Content Area Standard Target
• Data Analysis and Probability
• Measurement
• Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer the
• Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data
• Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement
• Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurement
• Recognize the attributes of length, volume, weight, area, and time
• Understand how to measure using nonstandard and standard units
• Select an appropriate unit and tool for the attribute being measure
• Measure with multiple copies of units of the same size, such as paper clips laid end to end
• Use tools to measure
• Pose questions and gather data about themselves and their surroundings
• Represent data using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs
• Discuss events related to students’ experiences as likely or unlikely
Obtain the Materials

• Legos (either Duplos or regular Legos)
• Markers
• Items to measure
• Sheet of paper (Make a chart with 3 columns, the items to be measured and a prediction and actual measurement).

Draw the items for children that cannot read independently yet, but also write the item name with the drawing.

• Chart paper to record the results of the group’s findings.

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the Activity

1. Ask if the children have ever played with Lego blocks. “What did you do with the Lego Blocks?” (built various objects)  Explain that today, they are going to use Lego Blocks to measure items around the room.
2. Model how the children are going to go about measuring the items on their list.  Begin with an item that is not on their list.  A stool, for example.  Have the children predict how many Legos high they think the chair is.  Write their prediction under that column.  Using the Legos and a volunteer, measure how many Legos tall the chair actually is by stacking the Legos one on top of another. Write the actual answer under the column.
3. Ask the children what they noticed between how many Legos tall they thought the chair would be and how many Legos tall the chair actually is.  Was it more or less than they had predicted?

Engage the Children

1. Explain to the children that now they are going to measure the items on their list.  But before they actually measure, they need to guess/predict how many Legos tall they think the item will be.  Predict first, then measure.
2. It is handy to have clipboards on hand for this activity as it makes it easier for the children to write down their results.
3. Once the children are done measuring, gather them altogether to discuss and record their results.  The predictions vary but the actual should be fairly consistent.  If actual answers are wildly different, then measure the items again as a group.
4. Discuss the difference between a prediction, a guess and an actual measurement.

• Have the children measure both the length and width of each item.  On the recording sheet, make 4 columns – a prediction for the width of an item and an actual for that item and then a prediction for the length of the same item and an actual.
• Have the children find the difference between what they estimated and the actual number of Legos.  Say: “You estimated that the apple was 13 Legos tall.  After you measured the apple, you found out that the apple was actually only 5 Legos tall.  Ask: How many more Legos tall did you think the apple was?  The difference between your prediction and the actual height is how many Legos?”

Encourage Vocabulary

• Predict  To guess what will happen next (e.g., Have the children predict how many Legos high they think the chair is.)
• Measure  Use of standard units to find out size or quantity in regard to: length, breadth, height, area, mass, weight, volume, capacity, temperature and time
• Difference – The distance between two numbers (e.g., "The difference between your prediction and the actual height is how many Legos?")
• How many The total or sum (e.g., "The difference between your prediction and the actual height is how many Legos?")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

• Have difficulty making predictions.
• Have difficulty manipulating small Legos.

Pre-K Children may:

• Have already grasped measuring with non-standard units.

• Have a strong number sense

.

Home child care providers may:

• Skip the predicting column and go straight to the actual measurement.
• Help the children snap the Legos together.  Help align the snapped Legos next to the measured item.
• Use the bigger Legos, the Duplo Legos, and measure bigger items such as themselves or chairs.

Home child care providers may:

• Have the children measure both the length and width of each item.  On the recording sheet, make 4 columns – a prediction for the width of an item and an actual for that item and then a prediction for the length of the same item and an actual.
• Have the children find the difference between what they estimated and the actual number of Legos.  “You estimated that the apple was 13 Legos tall.  After you measured the apple, you found out that the apple was actually only 5 Legos tall.  How many more Legos tall did you think the apple was?  The difference between your prediction and the actual height is how many Legos?”

Books

• How Big Is A Foot by Rolf Myller (New York: Yearling, 1991)
• How Tall, How Short, How Far Away? by David A. Adler (New York: Holiday House, 2000)
• Length by Henry Arthur Pluckrose (New York: Children's Press, 1995)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

• Mother May I” is a fun game to play outside.  Review the different steps and notice that baby steps are small and jumps are bigger.

• Using any tool of non-standard measurement (bigger playground blocks, children’s hands or feet,), measure items outside.  Measure “How many” hands long the slide is, “How many” shovels long the sandbox is, “How many” blocks long the playground is.

Web Resources

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