What is Measurement

Measurement (Definition, Activities)

How to give your child a strong foundation in measuring

Measuring is used to compare attributes. It is a more difficult concept to learn than you might realise with your years of measuring and being measured!

Different measurements aren't necessarily linked. Two cubes might share the same dimensions, but one made of metal will be heavier than one made of paper. A cube of modelling clay will weigh the same when you stretch it into an entirely different shape, but its length and width will change.

Recognising what can be measured and compared.

To begin with, kids will use general vocabulary to describe measurable attributes. Kids will start to pick up on patterns that might not be entirely correct. For example, they could notice that things made of metal are often described as heavy, so they might describe all metal objects as heavy.

Learning how to measure

Start with comparing objects with language like taller than, heavier than, and so on. You can do this by moving physical objects and in-app elements next to each other to compare against different attributes.

Measuring length is a good starting point, as measuring weight is difficult to visualise. Keep things as visually uncluttered as possible by using a ruler not subdivided beyond the basic unit, such as an inch or centimetre. 

One area where apps can confuse kids is with an on-screen ruler. The ruler shown on a screen will not correspond with real-life representations as the app's ruler will be scaled with the screen. You'll need to clarify that it only represents the measurements in the app's world and that physical measures are consistent in the real world.

Kids will use general terms, as do adults, such as big. When asking kids to describe the relative attributes of their toys and what they see in apps, guide them towards using more specific language like tall, heavy, empty, and long. Why is a character big? Do they look heavy or tall? Are they big compared to other characters?

Use book apps to talk about and compare characteristics of characters and objects. 

Use kids' art apps to set drawing challenges. For example, draw a house and ask kids to draw one the same size but with a bigger door. Then, discuss whether you could have been more accurate in describing the door (taller/wider/double the height).


Time is also a measurement but even more difficult for kids to visualise than weight. Start with sequences, perhaps creating a visual guide for your child's morning routine. Discuss what happened before and after in stories.

Apps for Learning About Time

Early Math Learning Concepts - The Building Blocks - Part 1

Early Math Learning Concepts - How many? - Part 2

Early Math Learning Concepts - Comparing Numbers - Part 3

Early Math Learning Concepts - Patterns - Part 4

Early Math Learning Concepts - Shapes - Part 5

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