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.