## Measuring Straws

In this lesson, children will use pre-cut straws and match them up with a corresponding length on a piece of paper.

### Math Lesson for:

Toddlers/Preschoolers

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

### Content Area:

Algebra

Measurement

### Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers **meet the following educational standards**:

- Understand patterns, relations and functions
- Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems and processes of measurement
- Apply appropriate techniques, tools and formulas to determine measurement

### Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be **more proficient** at:

- Sorting, classifying and ordering objects by size, number and other properties
- Recognizing the attributes of length, volume, weight, area and time
- Using tools to measure
- Developing common referents for measures to make comparisons and estimates

## Measuring Straws

### Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

#### Step 1: Gather materials.

**Straws of all different lengths**(About seven straws per child. Use straws of different colors so that each child can have his/her own set of one color.)

**Matching colored paper**with the straw lengths drawn on them in descending order. (Purple straws will work with a purple mat, etc.)

**Note**: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

#### Step 2: Introduce activity.

**Explain**to the children that today we are going to talk about**shortest**and**tallest**and**heights**in between.**Ask**the children to line up from**tallest**to**shortest**. They might need help with this activity—especially the children who are close in size.- Once the children are lined up in
**descending**order from**tallest**to**shortest**,**ask**the children to identify the**tallest**child in the line.**Ask**the children to identify the**shortest**child in the line.**Ask**the children to**identify**children closer to the**taller**end of the line.**Ask**the children to**identify**children closer to the**shorter**end of the line.**Ask**the children to try and**identify**who is in the**middle**.

#### Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

**Explain**to the children that they will now do the same thing with straws. They will each receive seven straws, which they will put in order from**tallest**to**shortest**. There will be lines on the sheet to help them.- When the children are done arranging their straws in
**descending**order,**ask**the children the same types of questions that you asked when they were in line:**Identify**the**tallest**straw, the**shortest**straw, the straw in the**middle**of the**tallest**and**shortest**, a straw closer to the**tallest**straw and the straw closest to the**shortest**straw.

**Additional Extensions**

- Do not draw lines on their work mats. Have the children put the straws in
**descending**order (from**tallest**to**smallest**) without the pre-drawn lines. Then ask the children to put the straws in**ascending**order (from**smallest**to**tallest**).

- Under the
**tallest**line, the**smallest**line and the**middle**line, write the corresponding word with space below so that the children can also copy and write the word.

#### Step 4: Teach math vocabulary.

**Tall, Taller, Tallest**: Used to compare stature/height (e.g.,”Which straw is the**tallest**of all of the straws?”)**Short, Shorter, Shortest**: Comparison words for length (e.g.,”Which straw is the**shortest**of all the straws?”)**Middle**:**middle**of the shortest and tallest straw?”)**Height**:**height**of these straws.”)**Measure**:**measure**a group of straws and determine which is the smallest straw and which is the largest straw.”)**Ascending order**:**ascending order**, from shortest to tallest.”)**Descending order**: Arranged from largest to smallest (e.g.,“We will arrange the straws in**descending order**, from tallest to shortest.”)

#### Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

##### Adapt Lesson for Toddlers

###### Toddlers may:

- Not be able to successfully arrange straws other than
**shortest, tallest**and**middle** - Just be becoming familiar with the concept of
**shortest**and**tallest**

###### Home child care providers may:

- Have the children work with three straws instead of seven (their work mats should only have three lines that correspond to the different straw lengths)
- Provide sets of two (one item being the
**tallest**and the other item being the**shortest**) and have the children distinguish between the two items. Provide more items than the two straws: Items that you would measure by height, such as two spaghetti noodles or two blocks)

##### Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers

###### Preschoolers may:

- Be adept at comparing the heights of objects

###### Home child care providers may:

- Give the children work mats without pre-drawn lines and have the children put the straws in
**ascending**and**descending order**on the mats - Give the children unlike items to arrange in order from
**smallest**to**largest**or vice versa

### Suggested Books

by B. G. Hennessy (New York: Puffin, 1990)*The Dinosaur Who Lived in My Backyard*by Keith Faulkner (New York: Dutton Juvenile, 2002)*Tallest, Shortest, Longest, Greenest, Brownest Animal in the Jungle!*

### Music and Movement

**Play an exercise game with the children**. Ask the children to duplicate your motions as you make yourself into a short tree (squat down) and a tall tree (reach as high as possible). As you make the movements,**say**: “Short, tall.” Ask the children to join you.**Sing “Big and Tall.”**www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_7wV1OzTX8**English Nursery Rhymes: Tall and Small**www.youtube.com/watch?v=23_fLw_Opg8

### Outdoor Connections

**Go on an outdoor exploration comparing like objects**. Which tree is the **tallest**? Which bush is the **smallest**? If the children become adept at measuring like objects, mix up the objects and ask comparison questions, such as: “Is the tree **taller** than the bush? Which is **smaller**, the yellow car or the blue car?”

### Web Resources

**All sorts of measuring games**www.softschools.com › Measurement › Games**Play “How Tall?”**pbskids.org/curiousgeorge/games/how_tall/how_tall.html

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