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Combining Comparisons and Math: The First Step to Understanding Measurement

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Comparisons is the first step in developing an understanding of measurement among young children. For example, splitting a cookie between friends shows how children are capable of grasping this concept. It is important for children, in their first few years, to have the opportunities to use their comparison skills as well as learn to use standard and nonstandard tools to support their different measurement activities. A plethora of activities on different math concepts, like measurement are used in the book, Creative Investigation in Early Math written by Angela Eckhoff, P.h.D.


Me-Size Towers


  • Comparing Length


  • Children will build block towers that reach their height.


  • Building blocks in a variety of sizes
  • Mirror
  • Digital camera ( optional )

Children will work to build towers as tall as they are. This lesson works best if children work in pairs or small groups so they have adequate access to needed materials and help from peers.

Activity Steps:

  1. Start with a whole-group discussion about estimating height. Begin by asking children if they have ever made a tower as tall as themselves. Ask how many blocks they think it will take to make a teacher-size tower. Use children as examples of tower height: “How about a Kyra-size tower or one as tall as Deon?”
  2. Divide the children into pairs or small groups, and ask them to find enough space to begin working on their towers.
  3. Encourage the children to think about their tower’s base size, so it will support other blocks as children add to the tower.
  4. Periodically ask the children to count the number of blocks they have used so far and to estimate how many more they will need. Have the builders stand next to their tower while you hold up a mirror to show them how close they are to creating a tower as tall as they are.
  5. After each tower is complete you can take a photograph of the children standing next to it, if desired.

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