Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

CME Group Community Foundation



Trucks and Blocks
Children will build roads with blocks and compare their lengths.
Content Area Standard Target
  • Measurement
  • Understand measurable attribute of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement
  • Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements
  • Compare lengths (use longer than, shorter than, and equal to)
  • Make comparisons and estimates of measures
  • Measure using standard and nonstandard units
  • Use tools to measure
  • Recognize attributes of length and width
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • 4 to 5 different lengths of wooden blocks
  • Matchbox-size or small cars (enough so each child can have 2 cars)
  • Nonstandard unit of measure (choose something you already have, children can measure using paper clips, unifix cubes, etc.)
  • Extra blocks or small figures for extended play

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 Introduce the Activity
  1. Show the children two matchbox-sized cars, each with a road made from wooden blocks (purposely make the roads unequal in length) and begin a story. For example, you might say "Once upon a time there were two cars that wanted to race each other. There was just one problem. One car had a long road, and the other car had a short road."
  2. Ask: "Which car has the shorter road?" and "Which car has the longer road?"
  3. Ask: "What can we do so the cars can race on the same length of road?" (e.g. add more blocks to make the shorter road longer or take blocks away to make the longer road shorter)
  4. Place a variety of blocks on the table in front of you, and ask "What would you do to make both roads the same length?"
  5. Choose a child to come up to fix the problem using one of the methods discussed.
  6. Ask: "How can we be sure that the race will be fair and both roads are the same length" (Answer: We can measure and see if they are the same)
  7. Use the nonstandard unit of measure (for example, paper clips) and demonstrate how to measure each length of road. Once the first road is measured ask "How many paper clips long is the first road?" After the second road is measured ask "How many paper clips long is the second road?" Finally ask "Are the two roads equal in length? Do they have the same number of paper clips?"
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Give each child 2 matchbox cars and a set of wooden blocks.
  2. Ask children to create their own story about the cars racing on the road by creating two different roads with different lengths.
  3. For each child, ask "Which road is shorter?" "Which road is longer?" "What are you going to do to make the roads equal?"
  4. Observe child until they have made roads equal.
  5. Ask: "How can you know that both roads are exactly the same length?" "What will you use to measure the roads?"
  6. Tell the child to measure each road and check to see if the roads are equal.
  7. Encourage children to race their cars.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Length The extent of anything as measured from end to end
  • Standard Something considered by an authority or by general consent a basis of measurement (e.g., pounds, inches etc.)
  • Non standard Something used as a basis of measurement that is consistent but not standard (e.g., "In this lesson we are using paper clips as a non standard unit of measurement.")
  • Long, longer, longest comparison words for increasing in length
  • Short, Shorter, Shortest Comparison words for decreasing in length
  • Equal – Have the same length


Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Want to play with the cars.
  • Have difficulty measuring the lengths of each road.
Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Want to play with cars.
  • Want to build really, really long roads.
  • Want to count the bocks to determine if the roads are equal.

Home child care providers may:

  • Allow time for car play before or after the lesson.
  • Encourage the child to eyeball whether they are equal rather than measure.
  • Assist children with measuring using a nonstandard unit.


Home child care providers may:

  • Allow time for extended car play after the lesson.
  • Allow them to partner with another child so they can build extra long roads for measuring and racing.
Books Books
  • The Berenstein Bears and the Big Road Race by Stan Berenstein and Jan Berenstein (New York: Random House, 1987)
  • Beep! Beep! Vroom! Vroom! by Stuart Murphy (New York:Harper Collins, 2005)
Music and movement Music and Movement
Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Ask children to draw race tracks in the sand for two cars and identify a new non standard measure they can use from the outdoors.
  • Race cars outside and then measure how long each car went. "Which car went longer?" "Which car went shorter?"
Explore links Web Resources



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