Measuring with String

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

Yarn or string

A pair of scissors

Strips of paper


What To Do

In this activity, you will help your child discover how measurement allows us to indirectly compare objects by using objects around your home. Follow these steps to get started:

1 Have your child choose a few objects from different rooms around the house.
2 Pick one object. Have your child hold the end of the string near the base of the object while you extend the string to the top. Cut the string so that it is roughly the height of the object.
3 Repeat Step 2 for each object, until you have a string for each. Be sure to label each string with a small piece of paper so that you and your child can remember what object each string goes with.
4 Have your child lay the strings out straight on the floor so they are all lined up at one end, which will make it easier to compare their lengths.
5 Talk with your child about the different heights of objects you measured in each room. For example, you might say, “Wow! I didn’t realize the bed was longer than the window,” or “I wonder if the TV would fit under the table." Encourage your child to think of new things and places to measure and to use measurement words (longer, shorter, wider, narrower, etc.) to describe the relationships between objects. As you talk, remember to connect the strings back to the objects they measure. For example, “This string is longer than that one, so now we know that the dresser is taller than the TV stand.”

What To Know

Using string to measure and compare objects in different rooms shows children how measurement tools allow the comparison of objects, even if those objects can’t be compared directly.