27 Clever Ideas for Teaching Measurement of All Kinds

Break out the rulers and measuring tapes!

We Are Teachers, Mash Up Math, Wonders in Kindergarten

Measurement is not only an essential life skill, it can also be a fun, hands-on activity. Generally, young learners are introduced to the idea by comparing sizes, then trying out some nonstandard measurement. Then it’s time to break out the rulers, scales, and measuring cups! These measurement activities cover these concepts and more, providing kids with lots of practice.

1. Start with an anchor chart

A three panel shot of measurement anchor charts for the classroom
ESL Buzz/measurement anchor chart via eslbuzz.com

Measurement involves a lot of different terms and concepts. Make colorful anchor charts to help kids remember them all.

2. Read books about measurement

A collage of different books for children that teach measurement
Lucky Little Learners/measurement books via luckylittlelearners.com

From superheroes to blue whales to 12 snails and a lizard, the main characters of these delightful children’s books teach the concepts of measurement in fun and engaging ways.

3. Introduce the concept of relative size

This colorful video explains the concept of relative size in a fun and entertaining way for young learners.

4. Practice comparing sizes

Colorful pipe cleaner flowers are stuck into green playdough as an example of measurement activities
Planning Playtime/crayon flowers via planningplaytime.com

The pre-K crowd can get a head start by comparing sizes: taller or shorter, bigger or smaller, and so on. In this cute activity, kids make pipe cleaner flowers, then “plant” them in a Play-Doh garden from shortest to tallest.

5. Use LEGO bricks for nonstandard measurement

A measurement activity laid out with plastic dinosaurs next to colorful unix cubes
Montessori From the Heart/dinosaurs via montessorifromtheheart.com

Nonstandard measurement is the next step for young learners. LEGO bricks are a fun hands-on manipulative that pretty much everyone has on hand. Use them to measure toy dinosaurs or anything else you have lying around.

6. Measure by the foot

The outline of two feet on a white paper with a black ruler laid over one of the feet
Inspiration Laboratories/foot measurement via inspirationlaboratories.com

Measure the length of bookcases, floor tiles, playground equipment, and more by pacing it off with your own two feet. If you like, you can measure the length of one foot and convert the nonstandard measurements to inches.

7. Compare height with yarn

A child in a yellow shirt measures his height with a piece of yarn
Mrs. Bremer’s Class/yarn via mrsbremersclass.com

Measure a child’s height in yarn, then have them compare the yarn’s length to other objects around the room. You can also create a fun display by taping up a picture of each child with their yarn to show their height.

8. Snip lengths of pipe cleaners

Different lengths of colorful pipe cleaners and a wooden ruler on a black background
Simply Kinder/pipe cleaners via simplykinder.com

The more practice kids get with measurement, the better they’ll be. One easy idea is to cut random lengths of pipe cleaner and have students measure them in inches and centimeters. Pipe cleaners are inexpensive, so you can make enough for every child to get a handful.

9. Measure with paper clips

A student measures the length of a stapler using paper clips
Proud To Be Primary/paperclips via proudtobeprimary.com

Make measuring fun by using different items to measure with. Try paper clips, marbles, erasers, etc.—anything that you have in the classroom.

10. Line up by size

Students work together to line up in order of size
Wonders in Kindergarten/lining up via wondersinkindergarten.blogspot.com

Get your kids up and moving with this measurement lesson. Tell them the assignment is to work together to line up in a straight line from smallest to tallest. Try not to coach too much, see if they can work it out on their own. Once they master this formation, have them scramble up and try it again, this time from tallest to smallest.

11. Build a cityscape

A colorful sky scraper made from different columns of colored paper
Amy Lemons/cityscape via amylemons.com

First, kids cut out and design a city skyline. Then, they use their rulers to measure and compare the heights of the buildings.

12. Go on a measurement hunt

A worksheet entitled Measurement hunt spells out directions for the activity
123 Homeschool 4 Me/measurement hunt via 123homeschool4me.com

For a fun practice activity, have kids find objects that fit certain criteria. They’ll have to estimate, then measure to see if they’re right. 

13. Race cars and measure the distance

A worksheet titled Race Cars sits next to two matchbox cars, one blue and one yellow
Playdough to Plato/cars via playdoughtoplato.com

Zoom! Send cars racing along from a start line, then measure how far they’ve gone.

14. Jump like a frog

A girl sits on the floor measuring the distance between pieces of blue tape
Coffee Cups and Crayons/frog jump via coffeecupsandcrayons.com

If your kids need to move while they learn, they’ll love this activity. Kids stand on a starting line and jump forward as far as they can, marking their landing spot with tape (or sidewalk chalk if you’re outside). Use a measuring tape to calculate the distance, then see if you can beat it!

15. Play a game of measurement tag

Colorful lines with different measurements intersect on a sheet of paper
Teaching With Jillian Starr/measurement tag via jillianstarrteaching.com

You’ll need chart paper, colored markers, and a pair of dice for this one. Each player starts in a corner and rolls the dice to find the number of inches for that turn. They use a ruler to make a line in any direction. The goal is to catch another player at exactly their last stopping point. This is the kind of game that can go on for days; leave it posted in a corner for students to take their turns when they have a few spare minutes.

16. Introduce the metric system

This fun video introduces kids to the metric system and explains which measurements are best for measuring items of different sizes.

17. Learn to use a balance scale

A colorful plastic balance scale holds different items in each of its clear plastic cups
Early Learning Ideas/measurement via earlylearningideas.com

Distance is only one form of measurement; don’t forget about weight! Compare two objects by holding them in your hands. Can you guess which weighs more? Find the answer by using the scale.

18. Improvise a scale from a hanger

A red hanger hands from a doorknob. Hanging on each end is a plastic cup on a string with different items inside
Planning Playtime/weight station via planningplaytime.com

No play scale on hand? Make one using a hanger, yarn, and two plastic cups!

19. Compare and measure liquid volume

A blue pitcher and four clear containers of different measurement sit on a counter
Ashleigh’s Education Journey/liquid volume via ashleigh-educationjourney.com

Volume can be a little tricky for kids. It’s easy to assume the tallest container will hold the most liquid, but that may not be so. Explore by pouring water into various containers in this simple measurement activity.

20. Experiment with measuring cups and spoons

Measuring cups and spoons laying on top of colored rice
There’s Just One Mommy/measuring volume via theresjustonemommy.com

Prepare kids for cooking and baking by playing around with measuring cups and spoons. Rice is terrific for this activity, but it also works well in the sandbox.

21. Match conversion puzzles

A 4 piece puzzle with images on each piece representing the measurement of one quart
You’ve Got This Math/conversion puzzles via youvegotthismath.com

There are so many terms and conversions to learn when it comes to measurements! Grab these free printable puzzles to give kids a fun way to practice.

22. Measure perimeter with chocolate kisses

A box of crayons laying on a desk surrounded by chocolate kisses along the perimeter
Fantastic Fun and Learning/kisses via fantasticfunandlearning.com

Apply your measuring skills to area and perimeter activities. Start with nonstandard measurement, like seeing how many chocolate kisses it takes to outline an object. 

23. Set up a perimeter lab

A perimeter lab worksheet with a pencil and ruler laid on top surrounded by materials for the measurement activity
Creative Family Fun/perimeter lab via creativefamilyfun.net

Continue the perimeter learning with a measuring lab. Provide a variety of objects for kids to measure. Practice makes perfect!

24. Measure area with crackers

Kids gathered around a table measuring area on a worksheet with Cheez-it crackers
Mashup Math/Cheez-Its via mashupmath.com

Square snack crackers like Cheez-Its are perfect for a hands-on activity to measure area and perimeter. Starburst candies also work well.

25. Use yarn to introduce circumference

Two hands hold a piece of string wrapped around an apple
Gift of Curiosity/apple circumference via giftofcuriosity.com

How do you use a flat ruler to measure a round or irregular surface? Yarn to the rescue! Use it to introduce circumference by measuring an apple. (For more advanced students, cut the apple in half to measure diameter and use that to calculate the circumference too.)

26. Estimate the height of a tree

Two images side by side of a stand of trees. The image on the right shows a hand holding a pencil in the foreground
From ABCs to ACTs/tree measurement via fromabcstoacts.com

When it’s not practical to climb to the top of a tree with a measuring tape, try this method instead! Learn how it works at the link above.

27. Measure elapsed time

Learning to tell time is a foundational skill taught in the early grades. Once the concept is introduced, you can teach your students to measure elapsed time. This fun video is a great visual starting point.

Looking for more ways to make math fun? Try these LEGO Math Ideas and Activities!

Plus, find all the Best K-5 Math Resources here.

Try these fun activities to give kids practice with standard and nonstandard measurement, including weight, length, and capacity.