Measuring with Pennies

Recommended Age: 5+ | Mathematical Topic: Measurement & Fractions

A handful (or two!) of pennies.

What To Do

In this activity, you and your child will measure objects using pennies as units.

1 Have your child pick out an object to measure (it could be a toy, a book, or any other object you have lying around at home).
2 Show your child how to use the pennies to measure the object by placing pennies end-to-end along the length or width of the object.
3 Once they have the pennies lined up, count the pennies together to determine how many pennies long the side is.

What To Know

For adults, using units such as an inch or a foot to measure seems natural, but, for young children, these units are new and difficult to master. By using objects of the same size (such as pennies) to measure things, you are introducing your child to the idea that measurement involves using repeated units of the same size. Using pennies as a unit of measurement helps children better understand measurement units, like inches, and measurement tools, like rulers, as they grow.

Moving On

When your child can use pennies to measure objects on their own and can answer questions such as “How many pennies long is this?”, it’s time to change things up. You can provide a new challenge by using units other than pennies (for example, quarters) to measure the same objects. Help your child notice that it takes more pennies than quarters to measure a particular object, and to think about why that is (the pennies are smaller than the quarters!).

See it in action