What fun and learning can be had with a simple piece of string! This activity would be fun to help entertain the children at a picnic or outdoor summer event, as well as in the classroom. Our friend Carolyn, who has been teaching many years, is sharing these fun non-standard measurement activities for kids to learn about their bodies and to build math concepts of measurement and comparison. You can download a printable instructions for kids at the end of the post.
The supplies needed include string, a pair of scissors, and three markers of different colors. Permanent markers work best, so a piece of paper or cardboard could be placed under the string when the markers are being used. Younger children will require help to mark the string into half, fourths, and thirds. The free printable accompanying this post has the information about the activity and marking the string.
First, the height of each child should be measured with the string from the tip of the head down to the toes. There is no need to be completely exact and older children can do this for each other, or help the younger children.
Then the height string will be used to measure arm span, fingertips to fingertips. It should be “about” the same as the child’s height. There will be differences but this is not an Ape Index nor a medical measurement activity. About is the word of the day!
Many children will be amazed to learn their arm spans are about the same as their height, as they won’t have considered this before. My children used to like to check their arm span against the wing span display for raptors at the nature center, and so some children will have some experience with arm spans.
Next the string is folded in half and marked in the middle. Half the string should be about the same as the height of the leg as well as half the arm span. The children can try out these measurements.
When folded in fourths, the string should measure about from the elbow to fingertips as well as the tibia length. Mark the fourths with a different colored marker than the half, and be sure to point out the half mark is 2/4’s. Do use the vocabulary words to help increase a child’s word count. They love big words!
The most difficult part of this activity is the head circumference. I tell children to make the string look like an “S” and line up the ends and curved parts of the S. Then, they should pinch the strings together so there are three equal line segments. This folding may require adult help. Mark the thirds of the string with another color. The thirds should be placed around the head circumference to show a child the head is 1/3 as long as their height! This can astound young children who do not think of the head as being very big.
It is good to understand ourselves and have some relational idea of our body proportions. Weaving math into a fun measuring activity will help heighten children’s learning, whether or not they understand it was actually math. Children will soon see themselves as capable of these measurements and the corresponding vocabulary. They might want to demonstrate their learning to a friend or family member, also.
If you would like a complete guide of this set of body measurement activity, you can download a copy by filling out the form below.
Hope you like all these fun measurement ideas from Carolyn. As a teacher specializing in curriculum and gifted education, she has a lot fun learning ideas on her blog Wise Owl Factory. I always get inspirations from her posts.
Looking for more? This is another set Non-Standard Measurement Activity Ideas from Carolyn, with free printables as well. For more hands on math activities, check out 13 Outdoor Math Activities for Kids.