Measuring Sticks

20 October 2011 · 5 comments

in Maths Outdoors

During this past term, I’ve always taken a stick with me when going out and about. I stuck masking tape at 10cm intervals. This means that children can measure the size of anything when we are out and about.

I haven’t made this a prescriptive activity. I model measuring and often the children rather enjoy following suit. The girl in these photos particularly likes finding things to measure. All children seem to enjoy being measured by the stick too. My plan is to see if they will be up for a horizontal measurement using cones or other natural materials out in the school grounds.

The stick is also used as a sign of respect and responsibility. Only children who can handle the stick properly get to take it from place to place. Many of the children with whom I work, prefer to drag the stick rather than use it like a walking stick. That’s fine with me. I just like children enjoying being with a stick.

I’d like to thank Niki Buchan for the inspiration behind this idea. She is an early years consultant  who writes the Precious Childhood blog. She also pointed out, that a measuring stick has more purpose and meaning to a child who has cut or found their stick and made it their own. I think this is an important message in this consumer world of stuff. I did give the children in this class the opportunity to do this, but at the moment they just seem to prefer using my stick.

The real objects we truly understand and treasure often have a personal rather than material value. We need to give children more opportunities to make meaningful connections with the world around them.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Debi October 20, 2011 at 15:54

Couldn’t agree with you more. I can’t tell you how many “special” rocks my 7-year-old has stashed in his treasure box. He remembers the story behind each one, too. Those memories will remain long after his plastic toys have fallen by the wayside.

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Abbie October 25, 2011 at 17:54

This is so great! Love the idea of them finding it and making it themselves. My girls would love just going around and finding things to measure.

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gail October 29, 2011 at 10:58

I am quite happy about connecting with your blog. Your passion for the outdoors is contagious and you have helped me grow in a new direction. I planned our (not Halloween but) Fall Festival party on a half day of school to be outside. I invited the parents to send in snacks and treats as it was a party. I also told them to be sure their child was warmly dressed for a day outside. We had lots of rain all week so a few of my ideas never made it but we filled 1 1/2 hours with outdoor fun, only taking a short break inside in the middle. We hiked out in the 29 degree temp to our familiar vernal pool to check for changes. The children collected their own special sticks and we brought them back to class so they can dry out. Then we had recess and our indoor break. After that, we went outside to carve and cut up a pumpkin and apples, have more snacks with our friends, play in the small canvas tepee, and perform some of our fall poetry about turkeys and Indians with lots of room to run around. I recorded some of it on uStream so I can edit it and share with parents.
My point is, you have reminded me that I can do outdoor experiences with my class. Thank you for that. I am looking forward to our next adventure. Today we will get 8-10 inches of snow, so my brain will have to work out a doable plan for winter fun.

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Juliet Robertson October 30, 2011 at 19:41

Gail

Thanks for such a fantastic description of your outdoor event – it sounds amazing and I’m so pleased you felt encouraged and inspired by my blog. If you go onto my official website http://www.creativestarlearning.co.uk and visit the resources section – there’s a free downloadable winter wonderland resource pack which might help with some snowy activities.

Best wishes
Juliet

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